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Monterey, California 




Michael Kevin Mahon 

December 1985 

Thesis Adivsor: P. 

J. Parker 

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Mahon, Michael Kevin 


Master's Thesis 


14 DATE OF REPORT (Year, Month, Day) 

1985 December 







18. SUBJECT TERMS (Continue on reverse if necessary and identify by block number) 

Northern Flank, Norwegian Sea, Maritime Strategy, 
forward defense, NATO's strategic options 

) ABSTRACT (Continue on reverse if necessary and identify by block number) 

The purpose of this study was to determine an appropriate strategy for 
:he defense of NATO's Northern Flank. If NATO fails to successfully defend 
:his Flank, its vital North Atlantic SLOCs will be severely threatened and 
:he rear of the Central Front will be exposed to attack from the sea. 
Jorway ' s strategic location makes it the key to the defense of the region. 
)eterrence, the defense of Norway, and the protection of the Atlantic SLOCs 
ire the fundamental goals of NATO in the region. Under current conditions 
JATO must meet two basic objectives to achieve these goals--the Alliance 
rvust provide reinforcements to Norway very early in a crisis and it must 
rontrol the Norwegian Sea to maintain the war effort after the outbreak of 
lostilities. Four strategic options were considered in this analysis: 
expansion of deterrence, increased prepositioning, a defensive barrier, 
ind forward defense. Of the four strategies, forward defense is recommended 

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19. don't. 

because it is the only strategy that adequately addresses the 
basic objectives. 

S N 0102- LF- 014- 6601 



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Defending Norway and the Northern Flank: 
Analysis of NATO's Strategic Options 


Michael Kevin Mahon 
Lieutenant, United 'States Navy 
B.S., United States Naval Academy, 1979 

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the 
requirements for the degree of 


from the 

December 1985 


The purpose of this study was to determine an appro- 
priate strategy for the defense of NATO's Northern Flank. 
If NATO fails to successfully defend this Flank, its vital 
North Atlantic SLOCs will be severely threatened and the 
rear of the Central Front will be exposed to attack from the 
sea. Norway's strategic location makes it the key to the 
defense of the region. Deterrence, the defense of Norway, 
and the protection of the Atlantic SLOCs are the fundamental 
goals of NATO in the region. Under current conditions NATO 
must meet two basic objectives to achieve these goals--the 
Alliance must provide reinforcements to Norway very early in 
a crisis and it must control the Norwegian Sea to maintain 
the war effort after the outbreak of hostilities. Four 
strategic options were considered in this analysis: expan- 
sion of deterrence, increased prepositioning, a defensive 
barrier, and forward defense. Of the four strategies, 
forward defense is recommended because it is the only 
strategy that adequately addresses the basic objectives. 






1. Dependence on NATO 22 

2. Restrictions on Norway's Participation 

in NATO 23 

3. Norwegian Military Forces 26 

4. NATO Reinforcements for Norway 32 


1. The Military Threat 38 

2. Opportunities for Conflict 48 

3. A Neutralized Norway 56 



1. Adequate and Timely Reinforcement .... 62 

2. Control of the Norwegian Sea 64 


1. Elimination of Norwegian Basing 
Restrictions 67 

2. Increased^ Prepositioning of NATO War 
Supplies 69 

3. A Defensive Barrier at the GIUK Gap ... 71 

4. Forward Defense: The Maritime Strategy . . 77 


1. Is the Sea an Escalation Barrier? .... 84 

2. Should We Sink Their SSBNs? 86 

V. WHAT IS NEEDED? ........... 88 


BIBLIOGRAPHY .............. 94 












1.1 The Northern Flank 12 

3.1 The Area of the Northwestern TVD ......... 46 

3.2 Svalbard 51 

3.3 The Grey Zone 55 


NATO's Northern Flank is a maritime flank that extends 
from the Elbe-Trave Canal in northern West Germany to the 
North Cape of Norway. It has recently received considerable 
attention in the U.S. Congress and the Western press because 
of the important role that it plays in the U.S. Navy's 
Maritime Strategy. Although its importance is clearly 
secondary to the Alliance's Central Front, there seems to be 
a consensus among strategic analysts that World War III may 
not be won on the Northern Flank, but it could very well be 
lost there. 1 This conclusion is based on the relatively free 
access to the North Atlantic and the rear of the Central 
Front that the Soviets would gain if they are able to 
successfully turn the Northern Flank. The relationship 
between the defense of the Northern Flank and the security 
of Western Europe was summed up quite succinctly by General 
Sir Walter Walker, former Commander-in-Chief of Allied 
Forces, Northern Europe, in 1971: 

If our northern flank should be turned, America s access 
to Europe would be exposed and thus her ability to aid 
us would be curtailed. NATO's northern flank is an area 
whose importance is growing .... Its defense is vital 
to the very survival of the West as a whole. 2 

The Northern Flank can be divided into two distinct 
geographic areas, each with its own unique defense 

x This conclusion is attributed to Robert C. Weinland in 
War and Peace in the North: Some Political Implications of 
he Changing Military Situation in Northern Europe," paper 
resented to the "Conference on the Nordic Balance in 
Perspective: The Changing Military and Political Situation, 
"University, Washington, D.C., 15-16 June 1978. It is 
endorsed by Marian K. Leighton, The Sovi et Threat to NATO ' s 
Northern Flank , Agenda Paper no. 10 (New York: ""National 
Strategy Information Center, 1979), p. 95. 

2 Leighton, p. 7. 

considerations. For the purpose of this study, these two 
areas will be referred to as the southern and northern 
regions of the Northern Flank. Northern West Germany, 
Denmark, and southern Norway make up the southern region. 
The principal defense concerns in this region are preventing 
the Soviet capture of the Danish Straits and protecting the 
Central Front's Baltic Sea flank. The northern region 
includes central and northern Norway as well as the 
Norwegian controlled Svalbard Archipelago. In the northern 
region, NATO is particularly concerned with defending 
northern Norway and maintaining control of the Norwegian 

Because of its central location between the two regions, 
the successful defense of Norway is considered the key to 
preventing a major setback or possibly even a catastrophe on 
the Northern Flank. At the outbreak of a major East-West 
war in Europe, the Soviets will undoubtedly invade northern 
Norway. Their purpose will be to capture Norwegian military 
facilities which will enable them to move the bases for 
their ships, submarines, and aircraft over 1,000 miles 
closer to NATO's Atlantic sea lines of communication 
(SLOCs). Additionally, from these bases in northern Norway 
the Soviets will be able to launch attacks to the south to 
capture the rest of Norway. Soviet control over southern 
Norway would greatly increase > the likelihood of their 
capture of the Danish Straits which would severely threaten 
the seaward flank of NATO's Central Front. Within the 
context of these threats, geo-strategic , historical, and 
political reasons dictate that the NATO Alliance must 
prevent the Soviet capture of northern Norway. 

In a 1983 Proceedings article, U.S. Navy Secretary John 
F« Lehman asserted that geography was the most dominant 
principle of maritime power and that at present ". . 


geography overwhelmingly favors the Free World alliance." 3 
On the Northern Flank geography is indeed a NATO advantage, 
but it is an advantage that must be defended. Norway occu- 
pies a commanding position in the northern region. Its 
location allows NATO to maintain close surveillance of 
Soviet military activities during peacetime and it also 
provides the Alliance with an opportunity to achieve 
defense-in-depth of the Flank during war. As a result of 
these factors, 

NATO commanders in Europe have long believed that from 
the standpoint of Soviet strategy, Norway, on the alli- 
ances ' s extreme northern flank, is vital to success at 
sea. Some expect that the Soviet Union might move into 
the area before fighting began in Central Europe. 

Norway has sovereignty over the Svalbard Archipelago 
which is located in the middle of a maritime gap that 
stretches from the northeast corner of Greenland to the 
North Cape of Norway. 5 The Greenland- Svalbard-North Cape gap 
controls the access from the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean to 
the Norwegian Sea (see Figure 1.1). This gap together with 
the Greenland- Iceland-United Kingdom (GIUK) gap gives NATO 
". . . considerable control over the exits from the northern 
Soviet ports." 6 Free movement through both of these gaps is 
considered absolutely essential for the Soviet Union's stra- 
tegic and economic interests in the region. 

3 John F. Lehman, "Nine Principles for the Future of 
American Maritime Power, "Proceedings 110 (February 1984): 

48. B ~ 

'Drew Middleton, "Navy Sees Limit on Ability in Atlantic 
War," New York Times , 20 February 1980, p. A6 . 

5 Svalbard is an Arctic archipelago that includes the 
Spitzbergen group of islands, Bear Island, and Hopen Island. 
It has been under Norwegian control since 1925. See Kirsten 
Amundsen, Norway , NATO and the Forgotten Soviet Challenge , 
Policy Papers in International Affairs , nol 1% (Berkeley : 
University of California, 1981), pp. 16-17. 

s Christian Eliot, "Autumn Forge Exercise Ocean Safari 
Interview," NATO's Fifteen Nations 24 (October/November 
1979): 66! 
























(Ncm I 

(AiHCH IS * 

llitn I * 

%T&~7 Nor1 h 

'— f NC.L AND 

U. S. S. R. 

(Source: Leighton, p. xi.) 

Figure 1.1 The Northern Flank. 

As students of military history, especially World War 
II, the Soviets must recognize the value of Norway in any 
battle for the Atlantic. "Experience during World War II 
showed conclusively that the German forces occupying the 
long Norwegian coastline posed a constant threat to Allied 


shipping operations in the Atlantic." 7 The airfields and 
deep fjords of northern Norway are excellent bases for 
ships, submarines, and aircraft conducting strikes against 
enemy naval forces in the Norwegian Sea and North Atlantic. 
Capture of Norway was a vital prerequisite to Germany's 
invasion of Russia and ". . . control of Norway by the 
Kremlin would be a prelude to applying decisive pressure on 
Germany, NATO's heartland." 8 

At the present time Norway's air and naval bases are a 
major NATO advantage. They pose a significant threat to the 
Soviet forces operating in the area, but they are also very 
vulnerable to capture by the Soviets. Based on the histor- 
ical experience, the Soviets will surely attempt to capture 
northern Norway and its bases very early in a conflict with 
the West. If the Soviets are successful, these same bases 
will certainly be used against NATO in subsequent operations 
and their loss could very well insure Soviet success on the 
Northern Flank. 

Beyond the geo-strategic and historical reasons for 
pursuing a strategy that provides for a credible defense of 
Norway, there is the basic commitment of the NATO Alliance 
to provide for the common defense. If NATO concedes the 
Norwegian Sea to the Soviets by establishing a maritime 
defensive barrier across the GIUK gap, this commitment will 
not be met by the Alliance because Norway will fall behind 
Soviet lines. Although some would argue that this is NATO's 
only alternative because of the balance of naval forces in 
the region, it is not a strategy that NATO can politically 
afford to pursue. With the Norwegian Sea under Soviet domi- 
nation, NATO cannot resupply and reinforce Norway to the 
degree necessary to insure its defense. The Norwegians know 
this and so do the Soviets. What must be understood is that 

7 Amundsen, p. 4. 
8 Leighton, p . 3 . 


Alliance cohesion is required both for going into war 
and for sustaining containment after war termination. 
If we forfeit the defense of any NATO ally, we give the 
Soviets a leverage point to start destroying the 
Alliance in detail. 9 

Under current conditions control of the Norwegian Sea is 
necessary to insure the successful defense of Norway and 
more importantly, to protect NATO's North Atlantic SLOCs . 
If NATO is unable to protect its Atlantic lifelines because 
it cannot establish control of the Norwegian Sea, the 
Alliance's strategy for the defense of Western Europe loses 
its credibility and the situation on the Central Front 
becomes untenable. By maintaining a viable strategy and a 
credible capability to defend Norway the Alliance should be 
able to deter Soviet aggression on the Northern Flank. If 
deterrence fails somewhere else in the world and a major 
East-West war erupts, a strong defense posture in the 
northern region will permit the defense-in-depth of the 
Atlantic SLOCs. 

The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the stra- 
tegic situation on the Northern Flank with specific emphasis 
on the northern region. From this investigation, a set of 
goals and objectives will be determined to provide a basis 
of analysis for NATO's strategic options in the region. 
Several strategies will be analyzed with the intention of 
determining their applicability to the stated goals and 
objectives. In the end this process will lead to the formu- 
lation of a strategy that meets the objectives and achieves 
the goals. 

9 Robert S. Wood and John T. Hanley, "The Maritime Role 
in the North Atlantic," to be published in The U.S. Navy: 
View From the 1980' s, ed. James George (Boulder, Co.: 
Westview Press, forthcoming, 1985) p. 8. 



In the spring of 1988, the Soviet leadership determined 
that a significant shift in the 'correlation of forces' had 
taken place. Throughout the world the forces of socialism 
were slowly gaining an advantage over the West and the 
Soviet leaders believed that an opportunity existed for the 
Soviet Union to assert its power and achieve a major stra- 
tegic breakthrough. 

With Nicaragua firmly in the Soviet camp, its Marxist 
regime was free to export its revolution throughout Latin 
America and the U.S. was clearly on the defensive. American 
public opinion against any action in Central America that 
could possibly lead to military involvement eliminated the 
threat of U.S. intervention. The Soviet Union through Cuba 
had kept the Sandinistas in power during the mid- 1980 's and 
now the Sandinistas were paying their debt to their masters 
in Moscow. 

Racial unrest in South Africa had blossomed into full- 
scale civil war with a Marxist faction in the vanguard of 
the ant i- government movement. Realizing that the fall of 
the Pretoria government would jeopardize Western access to 
several strategic minerals, the Soviets through their Cuban 
proxies in Angola were openly extending their 'fraternal 
assistance' to the revolutionaries. Because of the racial 
nature of the civil war and the Reagan Administration's 
strong opposition to a violent overthrow of white rule, the 
U.S. could not intervene to support the Government nor could 
it back any of the revolutionaries. The U.S. was essen- 
tially powerless and the Soviets were taking advantage of 
American weakness in this very critical region. 

Without much opposition from the West, the Soviet geno- 
cide campaign against the Afghan rebels was rapidly 
approaching its successful conclusion. The Soviet forces 


in Afghanistan were in complete control of the cities and 
almost all of the countryside. Their 'fraternal assistance' 
was reduced to 50,000 troops (two motorized rifle divisions 
and several supporting units) which were deployed along the 
Pakistani border. The 'puppet' government in Kabul was 
leading the country toward socialism in accordance with the 
Soviet model and there was serious concern in Pakistan about 
the next Soviet move. 

Despite these significant Soviet advances, the West was 
too preoccupied with domestic issues to "recognize the 
growing seeds of confrontation. This preoccupation was at 
its peak in the United States where a liberal upsurge was 
gaining momentum and rapidly replacing the conservative 
consensus of the early 1980' s. Continued unfavorable 
balance of trade deficits had forced the United States to 
take actions that caused friction with its trading partners 
and seriously strained its alliances. Efforts to eliminate 
Federal budget deficits and reduce the national debt finally 
forced domestic spending cuts and increased taxes. These 
actions sharply polarized the American electorate. The 
results of this polarization were obvious during the 1986 
congressional elections when the Democrats regained control 
of the Senate and expanded their lead in the House. 

As a result of the cuts in domestic spending, continua- 
tion of the Reagan Administration's defense build-up became 
politically impossible to support in Congress. By 1986 real 
growth in the defense budget had ceased and this trend 
continued until 1988. Because of this freeze in defense 
spending the modernization of the U.S. strategic nuclear 
deterrent force could not keep pace with the relentless 
Soviet building program. Conventional force improvements 
had to be substantially cut or extended well into the 1990 's 
while the '600- Ship Navy' was complete, but critically short 
of manpower. 


The stagnation of the defense budget in the United 
States made it extremely difficult for the U.S. to assume 
its leadership role in NATO and put pressure on its allies 
to continue meeting the Alliance goal of three percent real 
growth. NATO was slipping further behind the Warsaw Pact 
and with the existing economic conditions there was not much 
that could be done. The balance of military power, one of 
the most critical factors in the computation of the 'corre- 
lation of forces,' was overwhelmingly in favor of the Warsaw 

As a result of NATO's conventional military weakness and 
Soviet strategic nuclear superiority, the world had been 
made safe for increased Soviet adventurism even at the risk 
of conventional war between the superpowers. The Soviets 
now turned their attention to what the British press once 
called "the Achilles Heel of NATO." 10 

In early June 1988, the Soviets made it clear to the 
Norwegian Government that they sought a permanent solution 
to the 'Grey Zone' dispute, revocation of the Svalbard 
Treaty, a Soviet-Norwegian condominium to rule Svalbard, and 
sovereignty over Bear Island. 11 The Norwegians put these 
issues before the World Court because it was apparent to 
them that any agreement reached in bilateral negotiations 
with the Soviet Union would be unfavorable to Norway and 
would require substantial concessions on their part. The 
Soviets responded with a refusal to abide by the ruling of 
the Court and announced extensive plans for resource explo- 
ration in the 'Grey Zone' and on Svalbard. 

With tension in the region mounting, the Soviets began 
their annual naval exercise in the Norwegian, Barents, and 
North seas with units from the Northern and Baltic 'Red 

l a 

The Sunday Times (London), 15 October 1978, p. 8. 

xl For detailed discussion of these issues see pp. 48-55 


Banner' Fleets. In addition to these fleets, the Soviets 
also exercised the ground and air forces of the Leningrad 
Military District in an obvious attempt to pressure the 
Norwegians. After two weeks of intensive operations at the 
end of July which included an amphibious assault against the 
Kola Peninsula coast, the Soviet ships returned to port for 
a brief period of reorganization and repair. On 3 August, 
they put to sea again for what appeared to be a second round 
of operations, but their true intentions became all too 
apparent during the early hours of 5 August. 

At dawn on 5 August 1988, a regiment of the Soviet 63rd 
'Kirkenes' Naval Infantry Brigade with the support of an air 
assault battalion captured the entire Svalbard Archipelago. 
Using the naval exercise as a cover for the invasion and 
Spetsnaz troops that were already on the main island of 
Spitzbergen, the Soviets were able to achieve complete 
surprise. Norway and NATO were presented with a most 
unpleasant fait accompli . 

Immediately after the invasion, two Norwegian submarines 
that were on patrol in the Norwegian Sea penetrated the ASW 
(anti-submarine warfare) screen around the Soviet amphibious 
group. They sank two Soviet transports and a guided-missile 
destroyer (DDG). Unfortunately, only one of the submarines 
survived the Soviet counterattack. Norwegian F-16s and 
guided-missile patrol boats also struck Soviet warships that 
were supporting the invasion. Their attacks were devas- 
tating, but costly, with another Soviet DDG and three 
frigates (FF's) going to the bottom in exchange for two 
F-16s and two patrol boats. The Soviets were obviously 
surprised by the ferocity of the Norwegian attacks, but the 
sheer weight of their numbers eventually began to show. 
Masses of Soviet fighter and ground attack aircraft were 
slowly winning control of the skies above Svalbard, the 
Barents, and most of northern Norway. 


By mid- afternoon on the 5th, the military forces of NATO 
had been placed on alert and the Norwegians began mobilizing 
their reserves. The Soviet response to this move again 
caught NATO and Norway by surprise. An hour after Norway 
started its mobilization, the Soviet 76th Airborne Division 
supported by two air assault regiments and Spetsnaz troops 
captured the northern Norwegian airfields at Banak, Andoya, 
and Bardufoss. While this was happening, two armored spear- 
heads were driving toward the main Norwegian defense line in 
the Province of Troms . One formation, led by the 45th Motor 
Rifle Division, crossed the Norwegian border into Finmark. 
This force easily defeated the Norwegian defenders along the 
border and it continued down the only major road in the 
Province to join up with the airborne forces at Banak for 
the move further south. The other Soviet invasion force was 
led by the 54th Motor Rifle Division and it attacked through 
the 'Finnish wedge' to outflank the main Norwegian defenses 
along the Lyngen Fjord. 12 To make matters worse, the Soviets 
landed a large amphibious force composed of naval infantry 
brigades from the Northern and Baltic Fleets south of Troms, 
to surround the Norwegians . 

As NATO leaders debated the appropriate response to the 
Soviet aggression, it became apparent that NATO lacked the 
conventional military capability to project its power into 
the region and forcibly remove the Soviets from northern 
Norway and Svalbard without risking escalation. Insuring 
the success of such an operation required forces that would 
threaten the Soviet homeland and these forces would surely 
prompt a decisive Soviet response. It was feared that the 
conflict would then spread to the Central Front and ulti- 
mately lead to World War III. 

1 2 The Finnish wedge is the northwest corner of Finland 
which is sandwiched between Norway and Sweden. 


Because of these considerations, NATO was faced with. two 
basic alternatives: (1) military action--which could lead 
to World War III and the possible destruction of the civi- 
lized world as we know it; or (2) no military action- -which 
could lead to further Soviet aggression, the disintegration 
of NATO, and the fall of Western Europe. The Soviets had 
decisively seized the initiative and NATO was fumbling for 
an appropriate response. 

There are three key points that should be taken from 
this scenario. First and most important is the fact that 
World War III could very well start on the Northern Flank. 
It is a critical region for both sides and if presented with 
an opportunity the Soviets could conceivably use military 
force to gain a decisive advantage. The second point has to 
do with the correlation of forces. Without an obvious shift 
in correlation of forces away from the West, the Soviets 
will not risk war with NATO. If a shift does occur and the 
West appears weak enough, the Soviets may attempt to gain a 
strategic advantage in the region, even at the risk of war. 
The final point is that the Soviets have the standing 
forces, operational flexibility, and strategic access that 
they need to carry out a successful surprise attack against 
northern Norway. 

A scenario like the one outlined above can be avoided if 
NATO maintains a credible deterrent on the Northern Flank. 
To make that deterrent credible, NATO must possess the capa- 
bility to carry out a strategy that achieves the Alliance's 
most basic goals in the region- -the defense of Norway and 
the protection of the North Atlantic SLOCs . 



The Soviet military threat to Norway and the Northern 
Flank is composed of two distinct theaters of military oper- 
ations (TVDs)--the Arctic TVD and the Northwestern TVD. It 
is expected that each of these TVDs will be activated during 
wartime. The Arctic TVD has a maritime orientation and its 
forces will come mainly from the Soviet Northern Fleet while 
the Northwestern TVD is land oriented and it will draw its 
forces from the Leningrad Military District. 


The foundation on which Norwegian defense policy is 
built is membership in NATO. In the context of Norway's 
extremely small population, its exposed strategic location, 
and the overwhelming threat posed by the Soviet Union on its 
northeastern border, this reliance on NATO is easily under- 
stood. Over the years the Norwegians have also placed 
several restrictions on their participation in the Alliance. 
These restrictions were intended to reduce tension in the 
region, but they have also severely limited NATO's deterrent 
options on the Northern Flank. Because of these restric- 
tions deterrence and the successful defense of Norway are 
contingent upon the Alliance's ability to deliver reinforce- 
ments during a conflict. Additionally, the Norwegians are 
only able to maintain small standing forces that are 
designed merely to buy time during an invasion. What 
results from this set of circumstances is a Norwegian 
defense system that is critically dependent on the rapid 
mobilization of its own reserves and the timely arrival of 
reinforcements from the rest of NATO. 


1. Dependence on NATO 

The Norwegians have long felt that membership in 
NATO and the defense guarantee from the United States that 
goes along with that membership are essential to their 
national security. Besides deterring a Soviet attack, 
"linkage to the security structure in Europe at large is a 
means to preserve a low military posture in Northern 
Europe." 13 This low military posture in Norway results in a 
situation where NATO reinforcements are necessary for a 
credible deterrent and defense. 

Norway's dependence on NATO for reinforcement and 
resupply is best understood by looking at the numbers 
involved in this effort. During the initial stages of a war 
with the Soviet Union, NATO will provide over 30,000 men, 
6,000 vehicles, nearly 200 aircraft, and over 20,000 tons of 
supplies. These figures are impressive, but what is even 
more important is that beyond these initial reinforcement 
requirements Norway will be extremely dependent on NATO for 
supplies. The civilian demand for supplies will exceed 
2,000 tons per day which is in addition to an estimated 
3,000 tons daily to maintain the war effort. 14 Most of these 
supplies will have to come by sea and Norway is almost 
totally dependent on other NATO navies (most notably the 
U.S. and British) to keep open its SLOCs . 

Norwegian support for NATO membership cuts across 
political lines. Both the Labor and Conservative Parties 
have consistently demonstrated strong support for NATO 
membership, regardless of which party is in power. With the 
current government controlled by the Conservatives, this 
fact was made very clear during recent foreign policy 

1 3 Johan J. Hoist, "Norway's Search for Nordpolitik, " 
Foreign Affairs , Fall 1981, p. 72. 

1 "Roy Breivik, Assuring the Security of Reinforcements 
to Norway," NATO s Fifteen Nations, special issue no. 2 
(1982), pp. 6 6-6 7 . 


debates in the Norwegian Parliament ( Storting ) when the 
Labor Party spokesman ". . . stressed that the two pillars 
of Norway's defence and security policy are membership in 
NATO and the defence guarantee from the USA." 15 

Despite this bi-partisan support for NATO member- 
ship, there is a strong Norway- out -of -NATO movement that has 
gained considerable momentum in recent years. Issues like 
the neutron bomb, the dual- track (Pershing II an GLCM) 
deployment decision, prepositioning of the equipment for 
NATO reinforcements, and the nuclear freeze movement have 
caused considerable debate that has sharply polarized 
Norwegian public opinion over NATO membership. Regardless 
of the Alliance's decisions on these issues, Norway's 
vulnerability keeps support for NATO strong regardless of 
its policies and recent ". . polls show that some 80 
percent of the public continues to consider NATO membership 
essential for security." 16 

2. Restrictions on Norway ' s Participation in NATO 

At the same time that Norway has fostered such 
strong ties to NATO, it has been forced to balance its 
actions against the defense concerns of its superpower 
neighbor. This process is referred to as 'Nordpolitik' and 
it is described by Johan J. Hoist, State Secretary for the 
Royal Norwegain Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as follows: 

The overall objective of Norwegian foreign policy at 
present is to develop a framework for a stable order in 
the high North based on a balance of pjwer maintained at 
the lowest possible level of military activity, and a 
pattern of cooperation which cuts across and reduces the 
saliency of the military competition. 17 

1 5 This statement was made despite Labor's outspoken 
opposition to NATO's decision to deploy the Pershing II and 
GLCM. John Berg, "The Army Hardest Hit in Norwegian Budget 
Plans," Jane ' s Defence Weekly , 16 June 1984, p. 984. 

16 Holst, p. 82. 
17 Ibid. , p. 66. 


To make it clear to the Soviets that Norway's 
membership in NATO is in no way provocative, the Norwegians 
have placed several restrictions on their participation in 
the Alliance. These restrictions prohibit the basing of 
foreign troops in Norway; ban the deployment of nuclear 
weapons to Norway during peacetime; deny allied use of 
Norwegian airspace and territorial waters east of the 24th 
meridian; and prohibit NATO exercises in the Norwegian prov- 
ince of Finmark. 1 8 The cumulative effect of these restric- 
tions has been to weaken NATO's deterrent capability on the 
Northern Flank and to make Norway's defense extremely depen- 
dent on reinforcements from the rest of NATO. Despite these 
restrictions ". . . the Soviets give the Norwegians no 
credit for their self-imposed restraint and seem not to 
believe that Norway is entitled to make defensive prepara- 
tions of its own." 19 

At the beginning of 1951, Norwegian Minister of 
Defense, Jens Christian Hauge , precisely defined Norwegian 
policy concerning the basing of foreign troops in a speech 
to the Storting . What he made extremely clear was that the 
policy did not prevent Norway from making preparations for 
the arrival of NATO reinforcements, requesting those rein- 
forcements in a crisis situation, allowing joint exercises 
in Norwegian territory, and allowing brief visits by NATO 
air and naval forces. 20 These guidelines have provided a 
framework for Norwegian defense planning up to the present. 

The decision not to bas^s foreign troops in Norway 
was made when NATO had unchallenged world-wide command of 
the seas. Control of the Norwegian Sea and the protection 
of NATO's Atlantic SLOCs are necessary for the adequate 

1 8 

Leighton, p. 5 

1 9 Robert K. German, "Norway and the Bear: Soviet 
Coercive Diplomacy and Norwegian Security Policy," 
International Security 7 (Fall 1982): p. 70. 

20 Ibid. , p. 61. 


reinforcement of Norway. Recognizing their dependence on 
NATO reinforcements, Norwegian leaders are quick to point 
out that 

Counting on Allied reinforcements in a crisis situation 
is an essential element of Norwegian policy; Norwegian 
officials have also pointed out that it is a precondi- 
tion for maintaining the base policy. l 

When doubt was raised in the late 1970 's whether the 
U.S. Navy could perform both the sea control and SLOC 
protection missions simultaneously, a reassessment of the 
situation became necessary. 22 As a result of Norwegian 
concern over the U.S. Navy's apparent limitations, an agree- 
ment was reached with the United States in 1981, to prestock 
the heavy equipment for a U.S. Marine Amphibious Brigade 
(MAB) in central Norway. This prestocking would allow the 
men of the brigade to be airlifted to Norway during a crisis 
situation which would greatly reduce the MAB ' s deployment 
time. The decision to place the brigade's equipment in 
central Norway instead of northern Norway, where the brigade 
would ultimately have to fight, was made to keep tension 
with the Soviet Union over the issue to a minimum. With the 
MAB ' s equipment in central Norway, the Norwegians were able 
to preposition the equipment for one of their brigades in 
the north. In the long run this decision should prove to 
significantly strengthen deterrence because 

Moving U.S. Marines into Central Norway constitutes a 
more credible means of demonstrating resolve with the 
aim of deterring attack, and involves a smaller escala- 
tion potential than a direct move into North Norway. It 
might therefore lend itself to earlier implementation. 23 

21 Ibid. , p. 72. 
22 Middleton, p. A6 
23 Holst, p. 72. 


3 . Norwegian Military Forces 

With a population of only four million people, 
Norway's military forces are correspondingly small, but 
extremely professional and well organized. Despite the 
relatively small size of their military forces, the 
Norwegians appear to be confident in their defenses. Much 
of this confidence results from their 'total defense 
concept' which attempts to maximize the potential of their 
limited numbers by relying heavily on the mobilization of 
reserves. Major General Olav Breidlid, Inspector General of 
the Army, describes the concept as follows: 

The defence of the country is the responsibility of 
every Norwegian. The total defence concept aims, in time 
of war, to achieve the largest possible military forces 
with the highest possible quality and, simultaneously, 
to obtain maximum support from the civilian infrastruc- 
ture and resources in all fields. 2 '' 

The total defense concept involves the standing 
forces (Army, Navy, and Air Force) which are made up mostly 
of conscripts, the Reserves, and the Home Guard as well as 
the civilian infrastructure that supports the military 
forces. What this system creates is a situation where "in 
proportion to population Norway has over four times as many 
men in active and reserve forces combined as the United 
States." 25 Table I provides a breakdown of the Norwegian 
armed forces and the total personnel available to each 
service . 

2 ''Under this system every medically qualified male from 
the age of 19 to 45 must serve in the armed forces. 
Initially this service is with the standing forces as a 
conscript (twelve months in the army or fifteen months in 
the navy and air force) 
reserves. 0. Breidlid, 

NATO's Fifteen Nations, special issue no. 1 (1985"), pp 
7 0- 7 3. 

iweive iiiuiiliiu xii Liie a. Liny ui xxiLeen iuuiiliis in 

id air force) which is followed by service in the 
0. Breidlid, "The Norwegian Mobilisation System," 

25 Richard C. Bowman, "Soviet Options on NATO's Northern 
Flank," Armed Forces Journal International, April 1984, p. 








ARMY: 20,000 
NAVY: 7,600* 
AIR FORCE: 9,400 

22 400 

6 000 

TOTALS: 37,000 



* Includes 1,000 personne 
** This total includes 10, 

1 in the Coastal Artillery. 
000 Home Guard reserves. 

The ground forces of Norway include a standing army 
with 20,000 troops on active duty and 138,000 personnel in 
reserve. 26 These forces are spread throughout the country to 
protect its most vital areas. Shortly after a mobilization 
order is issued, the Reserves will move to these areas by 
land, sea, and air. 27 During peacetime the Norwegians main- 
tain one all-arms group in southern Norway which is composed 
of an infantry battalion, one tank company, field artillery, 
and anti-aircraft batteries. In addition to this group, 
there is also the 'Royal Guard' infantry battalion and 
several independent armored, infantry, and artillery 
units . 2 8 

Because of the Soviet threat to Norway, it is not 
surprising to find that most of the combat strength of the 
Army is assigned to the defense of northern Norway. The 
primary purpose of the standing forces in the north is to 

2 International Institute for Strategic Studies, The 
Ltary Balance 1985-1986 
for Strategic Studies, T9~85 

Military Balance 1985-1986 (London: International Institute 

c ), P. 5 C 

2 There is only one north-south highway that goes all 
the way to the Soviet border while the only north- south 
railroad ends at Troms . This limited land transportation 
network puts a premium on reinforcement by air and sea. 

28 Ibid. 


buy time for the mobilization of reserves which are 
necessary to stop a major Soviet invasion. Northern 
Norway's defenses begin in the province of Finmark which is 
on the border with the Soviet Union. As a result of this 
province's harsh climate, sparse population, and close prox- 
imity to the Soviet Union, its defenses are not very exten- 
sive. The forces assigned to defend the entire province 
include a reduced infantry battalion (500 men) at South 
Varanger garrison which is located outside the city of 
Kirkennes 29 and a reinforced battalion group (1,000 men) in 
Porsanger which is about 120-miles west of the border. 30 
During wartime the Norwegians will mobilize a local brigade 
to hold the province's only military airfield at Banak as 
long as possible. 31 Based on these meager forces it appears 
that the Norwegians consider Finmark to be indefensible and 
that they expect to lose it very early in any conflict with 
the Soviets, but senior Norwegian military leaders insist ". 
. . that every inch of territory will be defended in time of 
war." 32 

The main Norwegian defense line is about 300-miles 
from the Soviet border along the Lyngen Fjord in the prov- 
ince of Troms . 3 3 The entire area is considered a natural 
fortress with steep mountains and deep fjords that greatly 
enhance the Norwegian defenses. Brigade North, a reinforced 
light infantry brigade from the standing army, 'is deployed 

29 0ne company (150 men) from this battalion guards the 
border which has seven border stations and eight discrete 
observation posts. The heaviest weapons available to the 
battalion are TOW and Carl Gustav anti-tank weapons. Mark 
Daly, "Europe's Forgotten Frontier," Jane's Defence Weekly, 
20 October 1984, p. 585. ^ 

3 "Amundsen, p . 6 . 

31 Tomas Ries, "Defending the Far North," International 
Defense Review , no. 7 (1984), p. 879. 

32 Daly, p. 685. 

33 Erling Bjol, Nordic Security , Adelphi Papers, no. 181 
(London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 
1983), p. 24. 


to defend this line. With 5,000 men assigned the Brigade 
has three infantry battalions, one tank company, one 
artillery battalion, and one anti-aircraft battery. 3 " Table 
II summarizes the Norwegain ground forces assigned to the 
defense of northern Norway. 











4 Brigades 








1 Brigade 



5 Brigades 

Besides the defensive positions that are manned by 
Brigade North along the Lyngen Fjord, there are also fifteen 
heavily defended coastal artillery fortresses that guard 
against attack from the sea. These fortresses are manned by 
the Navy and they protect the entrances to the Lyngen and 
Ofot fjords which provide access to Tromso and the main 
naval base in northern Norway at Olavsern. This area is so 
well defended and so difficult to attack that "the local 
naval command is confident that it is virtually unassailable 
from the sea, though there is some concern about Spetsnaz 
operations . " 3 5 

3 k 

International Institute for Strategic Studies, p. 55 

Spetsnaz is an acronym for Soviet special operations 
troops. Their missions include covert operations behind 
enemy lines, both before and after the outbreak of hostili- 
ties, to confuse and weaken enemy defenses. Ries , p. 879. 


During a war Brigade North will be reinforced by two 
brigades that are mobilized locally and two brigades that 
are to be flown in from the south. 36 These brigades should 
be in place within two or three days after the start of 
mobilization. In addition to these four brigades and the 
brigade mobilized in Finmark, the Norwegians can mobilize at 
least seven more brigades and several independent infantry, 
cavalry, artillery, and special purpose units. Together all 
of these units give the Norwegian Army a total strength of 
at least fifteen brigades or five division equivalents 
(based on a standard division with three brigades). 37 

With emphasis on small vessels that are ideally 
suited to an anti-invasion role, the Norwegian Navy is 
tasked with defending Norway's long coastline and protecting 
its coastal SLOCs . To accomplish these missions the Navy 
has 7,600 personnel on active duty and 22,400 reserves. 38 
Its main combat force consists of fourteen coastal subma- 
rines, 38 guided-missile patrol craft, five small frigates, 
and several support craft units. 39 These forces are not 
capable of challenging the Soviet Navy for control of the 
Norwegian Sea and in fact, they will be hard-pressed to 
conduct operations outside of Norwegian territorial waters. 

The Norwegian Air Force plays a crucial role in the 
defense of Norway and NATO's Northern Flank. With 9,400 
active duty personnel, 92 combat aircraft, and 30,000 
reserves, * ° the Air Force is tasked with defending the 

3 The equipment for one of these brigades has already 
been prepositioned in the area while the other brigade is in 
the process of prestocking its equipment. Ries , p. 879. 

37 A Norwegian brigade has about 5,000 troops and is 
normally employed as an independent unit. International 
Institute for Strategic Studies, p. 55. 

3 "These totals include the personnel assigned to the 
coastal artillery. Ibid. 

39 Ibid. 

*°Ibid. , p. 56. 


airspace above Norway and protecting its airfields. 
Additionally, the Air Force must support the forces fighting 
on the ground and at sea. Because of Norway's dependence on 
reinforcement by air and sea, the Air Force's success at 
performing its missions will largely determine the outcome 
of the conflict on the Northern Flank. Norway's recent 
acquisition of 69 modern F-16 fighter/ground attack aircraft 
has dramatically improved the Air Force's capability to 
carry out its missions. 41 These aircraft along with sixteen 
less advanced F-5A fighters and seven P-3B maritime patrol 
aircraft are the only combat aircraft available to the Air 

In northern Norway the Air Force operates from bases 
at Bodo , Bardufoss, Andoya, and the previously mentioned 
base at Banak. Two squadrons of F-16s (Squadrons 331 and 
334) are stationed at Bodo and they are often dispersed or 
deployed to the other bases in the region. There is also a 
squadron of P-3Bs stationed at Andoya.'* 2 These forces must 
control the airspace over northern Norway and they must 
challenge the Soviets over the adjacent seas. Their success 
is absolutely critical to the defense of Norway and the 
Northern Flank. 

The small size of the standing forces makes the 
rapid and secure mobilization of the reserves for each 
service essential to Norway's defense. Norway is credited 

^The increased range capability of the F-16s over the 
Norwegian Air Force's old F-104s (an almost 100 percent 
increase) has accounted for a substantial rise in the number 
of Soviet aircraft that have been successfully intercepted 
and inspected near Norwegian territory. Prior to 1984 the 
annual average number of intercepts was 150, but in 1984 
(the first full year of F-16 operations) the total was 471. 
John Berg, "F-16 Increases Norway's Interception Range," 
Jane s Defence Weekly , 26 January 1985, p. 133. 

42 The remaining fighter/ground attack aircraft are 
stationed at Rygg Air Force Base in south-eastern Norway and 
Oerland Air Force Base in central Norway in accordance with 
the following: Squadron 332 (F-16s), Rygg; Squadron 336 
(all remaining F-5As), Rygg; and Squadron 338 (currently 
flying F-5As, but converting to F-16sJ, Oerland. Ibid. 


with one of the fastest mobilization systems in NATO and the 
Home Guard is the internal security force that makes sure 
mobilization can take place. 43 With a total of 80,000 
personnel, each military service has its own Home Guard 
contingent which secures its mobilization depots and key 
strategic areas immediately after the mobilization order.'*'' 
To facilitate this process each member of the Home Guard 
keeps his personal weapon, ammunition, and combat equipment 
at home rather than at mobilization centers like the reserve 
units. There is considerable concern about the use of 
Soviet Spetsnaz troops against Norway and the Home Guard is 
the country's first line of defense against this threat . * 5 
4. NATO Reinforcements for Norway 

"Allied reinforcements rather than forward 
stationing constitute the core of deterrence on NATO's 
northern flank.'"* 6 There are several NATO units available 
for the reinforcement of Norway to support this deterrence 
policy, but these forces can only be deployed upon the 
request of the Norwegian government. This request can take 
place during a crisis or after the outbreak of hostilities, 
but the earlier that it occurs the better NATO's chances are 
of carrying out its reinforcement plans. It is for this 

U3 The elapsed time from the issuing of the mobilization 
order until a unit is ready to move to its assembly area is 
dependent on the when the order is given (time of day and 
season of the year) and the size of the unit. The 
approximate times for the various units are: Home Guard, 
3-4 hours; a company size unit, 6-12 hours; a battalion size 
unit, 12-24 hours; a brigade size unit, 36 hours.- For a 
complete description of trie Norwegian mobilization system 
see Breidlid, pp. 70-72. 

""Of the 80,000 personnel in the Home Guard, 72.100 are 
assigned to the Army; 5,400 to the Navy; and 2,500 to the 
Air Force. The Home Guard is organized into small sections, 
platoons or air defense batteries. International Institute 
for Strategic Studies, pp. 45-46. 

< * 5 As a result of this concern about Soviet Spetsnaz 
troops, it was recently announced that the Norwegian police 
forces would receive training to help counter this threat. 
"Norwegian Anti-Spetsnaz Role," Jane s Defence Weekly, 2 
Novemblr 1985, p. 959. J ~ 

" 6 Holst, p. 72. 


reason that Norway's Minister of Defense, Anders C. 
Sjaastad, recently asserted that his country would request 
reinforcements early, "... even at the risk of increasing 
tension."* 7 

The first units to arrive in Norway after the 
outbreak of hostilities (or upon the request of the 
Government) should be up to eight squadrons (96 aircraft) of 
fighter/ground attack aircraft.'* 8 These aircraft squadrons 
should be in place within 48 hours and their mission will be 
to assist the Norwegian Air Force in defending Norway's 
airspace and its major airfields. Because much of Norway's 
immediate reinforcement will be by air, these aircraft are 
extremely critical to the outcome of the battle. 

With its heavy equipment and supplies stockpiled in 
central Norway, the U.S. Marine Amphibious Brigade is 
expected to be one of the first NATO reinforcement units to 
arrive in Norway. Additional reinforcements could possibly 
include the Allied Command Europe (ACE) Mobile Force and the 
United Kingdom/Netherlands Amphibious Force. Because of its 
mission and its capability to be rapidly deployed, it is 
highly probable that the ACE Mobile Force will be the first 
non-Norwegian NATO force in Norway. 49 The ACE Mobile Force 
is largely a deterrent force which lacks the staying-power 
to make a major contribution to the defense of Norway. 
Theoretically, it should be deployed to Norway before the 
outbreak of hostilities to signal NATO's resolve in the 

"•'Mark Daly, "Norway Will React Quickly Promises Defence 
Minister," Jane s Defence Weekly , 13 October 1984, p. 619. 

" 8 Ries, p. 880. 

" 'Known as SACEUR's 'fire brigade', the Ace Mobile Force 
is a multi-national organization which was created to 
support NATO's flexible response doctrine. It has land and 
air contingents that are drawn from seven NATO nations. 
Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and the U.S. concentrate 
on the Northern Flank while Belgium, West Germany and Italy 
take care of the Southern Flank. See Charles Messenger, 
The ACE Mobile Force," Jane's 1983-84 Military Review, ed . 
Ian V. Hogg (London: Jane's Publishing, 1983), pp. 21-31. 



On the other hand, NATO will depend heavily on the 
contribution of the UK/Netherlands Amphibious Force. 
Although its heavy equipment and war supplies are not prepo- 
sitioned in Norway, it can be deployed to Norway during a 
crisis situation in a relatively short period of time. This 
short deployment time results from the close proximity of 
the countries involved and carefully prepared deployment 
plans. 50 The Force receives extensive training and it is 
fully equipped to fight in the harsh Norwegian environment, 
but there is growing concern that Norway will not be able to 
count on its services in the future. This concern stems 
from the debate in the British government over whether or 
not the Royal Navy should replace its current generation of 
amphibious assault ships which will be retired during the 
1990s. 51 Amphibious assault ships are needed to deliver the 
Anglo/Dutch Marines to Norway during wartime and without a 
new generation of ships the Royal Navy will lack that 

Each of the above units has other taskings outside 
of Norway that might have higher priority and cause them to 
be sent elsewhere. The only earmarked ground combat unit is 
the Canadian Air-Sea Transportable (CAST) Brigade, but 
because its heavy equipment is not stockpiled in Norway the 
Brigade could take up to thirty days to arrive by sea. 52 

5 ° To reduce its deployment time even more, this force 
could be placed on ships and stationed off the coast of 
Norway ready to be inserted during a crisis situation. J. 
D. Ladd, Marines' General Calls for Urgent Ship Study," 
Jane ' s Defence Weekly , 4 February 1984, p. 141. 

51 This debate centers around the cost of replacing these 
ships and the cost-effectiveness of airborne forces. One 
side argues that the cost-effective solution is greater 
reliance on airlift and the other side insists that a sea- 
based amphibious force ". . . is the Dest kind of fire 
extinguisher because of its flexibility, reliability, 
logistic simplicity and relative economy." Joseph Porter, 
"Will Heseltine Replace UK's Amphibious Fleet?," Jane's 
Defence Weekly , 28 September 1985, pp. 686-689. 

52 Ries, p. 879. 



This Brigade is also trained and equipped for combat in 
Norway and when it finally arrives it will serve as a mecha- 
nized reserve force. 53 

After NATO's initial reinforcement of Norway (in the 
first 48 hours), the Alliance should be able to provide up 
to 168 additional aircraft and the balance of its ground 
reinforcements during the next one to three weeks. 514 If the 
decision is made to send in the additional aircraft 
reinforcements, the U.S. Marine Corps and the ACE Mobile 
Force (Air) will be providing up to ten squadrons of 
aircraft. Table III is a summary of the NATO reinforcements 
that are available for Norway. 








(8 Squadrons) 

1-2 Brigades 

1-3 WEEKS: 


4 Brigades 
(1 earmarked) 



4 Brigades 

If the Norwegians are able to mobilize their 
reserves and promptly deploy them to northern Norway, NATO 
should be able to provide the additional forces that are 

53 The CAST Brigade con 
battalions, one armored 
artillery regiment, on 
helicopter squadron, and 
Its equipment, training, 
against a mechanized foe 
found in northern Norway. 
Air-Sea Transportable B 
Nations , special issue 1 ( 

Ries, p. 880. 

sists of three m 
regiment , o 

e engineer reg 
all the necessa 

and organization 
in harsh cond 
Charles H. Belz 

rigade Group," 

1985), pp. 20-24 

echanized infantry 
ne self-propelled 
iment , a large 
ry support units, 
emphasizes combat 
itions like those 
ile, "The Canadian 
NATO's Sixteen 

s u 


needed to stop the Soviets. Counting Norwegian standing 
forces and their reserves as well as all of the available 
NATO reinforcements, the forces that could be commited to 
the defense of Norway total at least 19 brigades and 356 
combat aircraft. General Richard C. Bowman (USAF, 
retired), the U.S. chairman of a bilateral U. S . -Norwegian 
group that studied the defense requirements of the Northern 
Flank, offers the following analysis of the reinforcement 
situation in northern Norway: 

Ultimately . . . the defense of northern Norway depends 
on the rate of reinforcement on both sides. The terrain 

advantage lies with the Alliance, and this advantage can 
be maintained if NATO is ' successful in 
even half the rate achieved by the Soviets 









15 Brigades 



4 Brigades 



19+ Brigades- 

* At least 


division equ: 


Lents (3 brigades 


In addition to the forces actually committed in 
Norway, NATO has several other assets that could play a 
major role in the defense of the Northern Flank. First, 
American aircraft carrier battle groups operating in the 
Norwegian Sea could provide close air support for the NATO 
forces fighting on the ground. U.S. Air Force AWACS and air 

55 Bowman, p. 95. 


defense fighters (F-4s and F-15s) flying from Iceland are 
other assets that are also available in the region. These 
aircraft will be relied upon heavily in the battle for the 
control of the airspace above Norway and the Norwegian Sea. 
Additionally, land-based maritime patrol aircraft (U.S. Navy 
P-3Cs) will also be flying from Iceland and they will make a 
major contribution to the ASW campaign in the Norwegian 
Sea. 5S Finally, long-range strike aircraft (TORNADOs and 
FB-llls) flying from Britain have the capability to conduct 
deep strikes against Soviet forces in Norway and on the Kola 
Peninsula. If employed against these targets, they could 
seriously disrupt the Soviet offensive by destroying 
follow-on forces and interdicting lines of communication. 


There are three inter-related aspects of the Soviet 
threat to Norway that have very serious implications for the 
NATO Alliance. First and foremost is the overt military 
threat posed by the tremendous build-up of Soviet forces on 
the Kola Peninsula. With these forces alone the Soviets 
could conceivably control the seas down to the GIUK Gap, 
capture much of Norway, and severely threaten NATO's North 
Atlantic SLOC. This aspect of the threat is the most impor- 
tant because it creates the strategic circumstances that 
make the other aspects of the threat possible. Second, 
there are several areas of confrontation between the 
Norwegians and the Soviets that could erupt into a conflict 
that would draw NATO and the Warsaw Pact into a major war. 
This aspect of the threat obviously has the most serious 
implications for NATO. Finally, there is the Soviet effort 
to isolate Norway from NATO and the United States. The goal 
is to achieve a neutral Norway that is ideally similar to 

5S T. Malcolm English, "USAF Iceland-Defending the 

Atlantic, Jane's Defence Weekly, 17 August 1985, pp. 

321-322. JLl B 


Finland. This aspect of the threat becomes credible when 
the Norwegians perceive that the NATO Alliance can no longer 
guarantee their defense because of the Soviet military capa- 
bility in the region. 

1. The Military Threat 

Analysis of Soviet actions in the Northern Flank 
region reveals that the overall Soviet strategy is designed 
to neutralize Norway. Ideally, this would be done by 
peaceful means, but the Soviets have massed the forces in 
the region to accomplish this objective militarily, if it 
becomes necessary. It not surprising to find that the armed 
forces of the Soviet Union outnumber those forces that are 
available to defend Norway, but what is surprising to find 
out is that the Soviet forces on the Kola Peninsula and in 
the Leningrad Military District alone outnumber their 
Norwegian neighbors . 

a. The Arctic TVD 

During the 1970' s, the West witnessed, the emer- 
gence of the Soviet Union as a true maritime power. While 
this was happening the size of the U.S. Navy was signifi- 
cantly reduced by the retirement (without replacement) of 
World War II vintage ships. Nowhere are the results of this 
shift in the naval balance more obvious than on the Northern 
Flank of NATO. 

The Soviet Northern Fleet, with bases on the 
Kola Peninsula, possesses the largest force of submarines in 
the world. It will provide the bulk of the forces for the 
Arctic TVD during wartime and its 38 ballistic missile 
submarines (SSBNs) represent its main striking force. In 
addition to the SSBNs, the Fleet has 142 other submarines, 
80 major surface combatants, 132 minor combatants (including 
several amphibious assault ships), and 200 auxiliaries. 57 

57 U.S., Department of Defense, Soviet Military Power 
1985. 1985, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 
T9Z3), pp. 8-13. 


The missions of the Northern Fleet include: strategic 
offensive strike, strategic defense (pro-SSBN and anti-SSBN 
operations), support of the Ground Forces, and SLOC 
interdiction (anti-SLOC and pro-SLOC). 58 Of the four 
missions, SLOC interdiction will probably be a low priority 
during the initial stages of a war with the West because of 
the importance of the first three missions. SLOC interdic- 
tion will take on greater significance if NATO forces on the 
Central Front are able to hold the Soviets, causing the war 
to drag on for a long period of time. 























1 Brigade 

1 Brigade 

In addition to its surface ships and submarines, 
the Northern Fleet also has 440 aircraft assigned to its 
Naval Aviation contingent. 59 These aircraft support the 
Fleet in each of its mission areas. Long-range bombers 
armed with cruise missiles, strike support aircraft, and ASW 
aircraft are all included in the Fleet's air arm. What is 
missing in the Northern Fleet is Backfire bombers- -the most 
feared strike aircraft in the Soviet Naval Aviation inven- 
tory. About 100 bombers are stationed on the Kola 

5 "U.S. Department of the Navy, Office of the Chief of 
Naval Operations, Understanding Soviet Naval Developments , 
fifth edition, p. 13 

59 Soviet Military Power, p. 13. 


Peninsula, but none of these bombers are Backfires. During 
recent naval exercises Backfires from the Baltic Fleet have 
routinely deployed to the Kola airfield at Olenegorsk and 
these deployments have caused considerable speculation 
concerning the wartime use of these aircraft. 60 

To conduct amphibious operations in the region, 
the Fleet has its own naval infantry brigade (the 63rd 
'Kirkenes' Brigade) which is stationed on the Kola Peninsula 
at Pechenga. This brigade has received considerable 
attention in recent years because of its major quantitative 
and qualitative improvements. It has been expanded from a 
regiment of 1,800 men to its current strength of about 
3,000. Its aging force of 30 tanks has been replaced by 50 
modern tanks and 150 armored personnel carriers. The 45th 
Motor Rifle Division (which is also stationed near Pechenga) 
has been trained to support the Brigade during amphibious 
assaults. Additionally, Mi-24 Hind helicopters now provide 
fire support for the Brigade during exercises. 61 These 
increases in the Brigade's size, equipment, and firepower 
have recently been supplemented by six (possibly seven) 
Lebed class tank-carrying assault hovercraft which greatly 
enhance its mobility. 62 Hovercraft will give the Brigade the 
capability to carry out its missions despite the rough 
terrain and harsh weather conditions of northern Europe. 

6 "There is considerable debate over the wartime role of 
these Backfire bombers. Although the aircraft are stationed 
near Leningrad, they routinely deploy to the Kola Peninsula 
and participate in Northern Fleet exercises. There is 
little doubt that the Backfire is more suited to tactical 
employment with the Northern Fleet which raises speculation 
that these aircraft are based further south to comply with 
the spirit of the SALT II agreements. See Hugh Lucas, 
"Backfire Takes Part in USSR's Navy Exercise," Jane's 
Defence Weekly , 14 April 1984, p. 547, and Tomas Ries - ; "A" 
New Strategy for the North-East Atlantic," International 
Defense Review , no. 12 (1984), pp. 1802-1803. 

61 Ries, p. 878. 

62 Roy McLeavy, "Soviet Hovercraft Based Near Norwegian 
Border," Jane's Defence Weekly , 12 May 1985, p. 719. 


It is believed that this emphasis on the 
Brigade's combat capability indicates a Soviet intention to 
conduct amphibious operations in the region during wartime. 
This intention is reflected in the observations of NATO 
officials concerning expected Soviet operations during a 
campaign against NATO's Northern Flank. An undisclosed 
British Navy source summed up this situation in a recent 
article in Jane' s Defence Weekly : 

If the Soviets are keen to take out the northern 
flank then they will need sea power to achieve that. It 
cannot be achieved overland. 

In order to take out north Norway and establish their 
forces there they would have to come by sea. If we wish 
to maintain Norway we also have got to maintain the 
Norwegian Sea. S3 

In addition to northern Norway, amphibious oper- 
ations are also conceivable against Svalbard, Bear Island, 
Jan May en Island, Iceland, the Faroes, and the Shet lands. 
Because each of these islands is within the range of Soviet 
airpower and with the exception of Iceland, they are either 
lightly defended or not defended at all; the Soviets can 
conduct operations against them at their own pace. In the 
initial stages of a war, operations against these islands 
are not likely because Soviet forces would have to concen- 
trate their efforts on Norway, but once the Soviets are able 
to establish bases in Norway, anything could happen. ^ 

The Soviets could also employ the Baltic Fleet 
to achieve a double envelopment of the Scandinavian 
Peninsula. This fleet, though smaller than the Northern 
Fleet, has considerably more amphibious lift capacity, 65 and 

S3 Geoffrey Manners, "NATO Commanders Criticise 'Split' 
Proposal," Jane's Defence Weekly , 4 May 1985, p. 739. 

6 ''Peter Whiteley, "Navies and the Northern Flank," in 
Janejs 1981-1982 Naval Annual, ed . John Moore (New York: 
Jane's Publishing, 19S1), pp. 107-108. 

S5 John Moore, ed., Jane's Fighting Ships 1984-85 
(London: Jane's Publishing, 1984) , p . 497 . 


its own naval infantry brigade. Its 43 principal surface 
combatants, 347 minor combatants, 170 auxiliaries, 33 
submarines, and 270 aircraft 66 give it more than enough 
firepower to capture the Danish Straits and join forces with 
the Northern Fleet. In recent exercises the two fleets have 
demonstrated the capability to isolate Scandinavia between 
their two pincers and extend their deployment area out to 
the GIUK gap. 67 Operations like these not only threaten 
Norway, but Britain, Denmark, Holland and Belgium. It is 
absolutely' essential for NATO to pursue a strategy that 
prevents the Northern and Baltic Fleets from joining forces 
and conducting combined operations. 

With the Northern Fleet homeported on the Kola 
Peninsula, it is easy to understand why Secretary Lehman 
calls the Peninsula "the most valuable piece of real estate 
on earth." 68 There is however, much more to his argument. 
In general, the Soviet Navy's access to the Atlantic Ocean 
is severely restricted by geography. Two of the three 
Soviet fleets that are located near the Atlantic, the Baltic 
Fleet and the Black Sea Fleet, must transit very narrow 
choke-points enroute to the Atlantic. During peacetime 
these choke-points are under NATO control and they will 
surely be closed to the Soviets during war. Movement of the 
Baltic Fleet is also limited by ice throughout most of the 
winter. The Northern Fleet, on the other hand, operates 
from the Kola Peninsula's warm water ports and has rela- 
tively free access to the Atlantic. This freedom of move- 
ment originally accounted for the concentration of over half 
of the Soviet SSBN force in the Northern Fleet. 

6 6 Soviet Military Power , p. 13. 
S7 Whiteley, p. 107. 

6 81 

'Michael Getler, "Lehman Sees Kola Peninsula as a Key 
to Soviet Naval Strategy," The Washington Post, 29 December 
1982, p. A4. B 


Today, the Kola Peninsula's close proximity to 
the Arctic provides the Soviet Union with a safe haven for 
the Northern Fleet's Delta and Typhoon class SSBNs. These 
SSBNs are equipped with extremely long range ballistic 
missiles that allow them to operate from the waters of the 
Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean. Because these submarines 
comprise a large portion of the Soviet strategic nuclear 
reserve force, the Soviets are very interested in guarding 
their security. With operating areas in the marginal ice 
zones and even under the Arctic ice, the SSBNs are protected 
by layered defenses composed of attack submarines, surface 
ships, and aircraft. These areas are referred to as 
bastions and during wartime one of the first priorities of 
the Northern Fleet would be to deploy to these bastions to 
achieve defense-in-depth of their SSBNs. 69 

The Kola Peninsula also plays a key role in the 
Soviet strategic air defense system. There are 280 dedi- 
cated air defense aircraft that are stationed throughout the 
Arkhangelsk Air Defense District (ADD) which overlaps the 
Kola Peninsula. As a part of this ADD, the Kola has 120 of 
these aircraft assigned to its airfields. Fifty surface-to- 
air missile (SAM) complexes with over 200 missile launchers 
are also deployed on the Peninsula to protect key military 
facilities and to guard the aircraft access routes to the 
Russian heartland. 70 Soviet strategic air defenses are 
concentrated along the main air corridors into the Soviet 

s "During wartime the U.S. Navy is planning to penetrate 
these bastions and attack Soviet SSBNs under the Arctic ice. 
Richard Halloran, "Navy Trains to Battle Soviet Submarines 
in Arctic", New York Times , 19 May 1983, p. A17 . For a 
description of - these bastions and the Navy's plans see 
Richard T. Ackley, "No Bastions for the Bear: Round 2.", 
Proceedings 111 (April 1985J: 42-47; Ian Bellany, "Sea 
Power and the Soviet Submarine Forces," Survival 24 
( January/February 1982): 2-7; and David B. Rivkm, Jr., "No 
Bastions for the Bear," Proceedings 110 (April 1984): 
36-43 . 

7 "International Institute for Strategic Studies, The 
Military Balance 1985- 1986 (London: International Institute 
for strategic studies, VT85 ) , p. 26. 


Union and the purpose of these defenses is to intercept 
American bombers and cruise missiles that are attacking the 
Soviet Union. 71 What makes the Peninsula so important to 
this system is that 

It lies directly beneath the shortest flight path from 
the United States to the demographic and industrial 
heartland of the Soviet Union and its forward position 
makes it a valuable base . . . for air defense forces. 72 

Finally, the Soviets use the Kola Peninsula as 
an auxiliary basing area for some of their strategic bomber 
force. To perform their strategic missions against the 
United States, Soviet bombers have to fly over the Arctic 
enroute to their targets. The Kola provides a convenient 
forward basing area for these bombers. This need to forward 
base their bombers is especially true for the Backfire force 
because this aircraft must refuel in flight to complete a 
round-trip intercontinental mission. 73 
b. The Northwestern TVD 

In peacetime the forces assigned to the 
Northwestern TVD are part of the the Leningrad Military 
District (LMD). The Ground Forces of the District are under 
the control of the Soviet 6th Army (stationed at 
Petrozavodsk). Besides the headquarters for the 6th Army, 
there are also two army corps headquarters located in the 
District (27th Corps at Arkhangelsk and 30th Corps at 
Vyborg). 7 '* These headquarters units will command the forces 
assigned to the Northwestern TVD which will probably be 
divided into two fronts. The latest unclassified sources 

7 William J. Lewis, The Warsaw Pact: Arms Doctrine and 
Strategy (n.p.: McGraw-HiTT Publications, 1982), p. 113. 

72 Ries, p. 874. 

73 Ibid. 

7 "John Berg, "Soviet Front-Level Threat to Northern 
Norway," Jane ' s Defence Weekly , 2 February 1985, p. 178. 


indicate that the Soviets have nine motor rifle divisions, 
one airborne division, one artillery division, and an air 
assault brigade allocated to the 6th Army. 75 

On the Kola Peninsula the forces assigned to the 
6th Army include the previously mentioned 45th Motor Rifle 
Division near the border at Pechenga and the 54th Motor 
Rifle Division in the Kandalaksha/Alakurtti area (see Figure 
3.1). Both of these divisions are maintained in a high 
state of readiness and they are heavily reinforced with 
units that enhance their offensive capability. These divi- 
sions are positioned near the most likely invasion routes 
for northern Norway and therefore they are expected to form 
the spearheads of the Soviet invasion forces. 76 

The air assault brigade and the airborne divi- 
sion (the 76th) are the types of units that the Soviets will 
have to employ in northern Norway to defeat its defenders. 
The climate and terrain of northern Norway make air mobility 
critical to the advance of Soviet forces. There are also 
reports that the Soviets have two Spetsnaz brigades in the 
area. 77 These troops will undoubtedly be used to create 
confusion behind Norwegian lines and their capabilities have 
already been pointed out by Norwegian naval commanders who 
insist that these troops are the only real threat to their 

^International Institute for Strategic Studies, p. 26. 

A typical motor rifle division has 12,000 troops and 266 

tanks while the airborne division has 7,000 troops. Lewis, 
pp. 31-43. 

7s The most likely invasion routes are directly through 
Finmark and across the most northern part of Finland (this 
area is known as the 'Finnish wedge' because it is wedged 
between Norway and the Soviet Union) . An attack through 
Finmark would essentially be a frontal assault along the 
province's only road while an attack through the 'Finnish 
wedge' would be an attempt to outflank the Norwegian 
defenses in Troms . If the Soviets elect to attack through 
Finland they would gain a significant advantage because 
their forces could use roads that would take them to within 
40 miles of the exposed flank of the Norwegian defense posi- 
tions. John Berg, "Soviet Front-Level Threat to Northern 
Norway," pp. 178-1/9. See also Bowman, pp. 93-98. 

77 Daly, "Europe's Forgotten Frontier," p. 685. 


















(Source: Berg, "Soviet Front-Level Threat," p. 321.) 

Figure 3.1 The Area of the Northwestern TVD. 

coastal artillery fortresses. Together these 
special-purpose units should give the 6th Army's motor rifle 
divisions the necessary support that they need to carry a 
successful invasion. 

To provide air support for the operations of the 
Ground Forces in the Leningrad Military District, there are 
approximately 550 combat aircraft. About 300 of these 
aircraft are helicopters that are assigned to Army Aviation 
and the remaining 250 aircraft are part of the District's 


Air Force. 78 All of these assets are under the direct 
control of the ground commander and they will figure heavily 
in the success of any Soviet attack on Norway. 

Of the 550 tactical aircraft in the Leningrad 
Military District during peacetime, 130 are actually 
stationed on the Kola Peninsula. This brings the total 
number of aircraft on the Peninsula to about 650 (this total 
includes Naval Aviation and Air Defense District aircraft) 
or the equivalent of almost seven American aircraft 
carriers. With this many aircraft on the Peninsula, one 
would think that there would be a shortage of bases, but 
there are over forty airfields on the Kola. What is even 
more staggering is that the aircraft actually stationed on 
the Kola Peninsula during peacetime only represent 50 
percent of its capacity which means that the Soviets could 
very easily double the number of aircraft on the Kola during 
wartime . 7 9 




















7 "There are 145 fighter/ground attack aircraft, 30 
reconnaissance, and 75 helicopters in the LMD ' s Air Force. 
International Institute for Strategic Studies, p. 26. 

79 Sixteen of these airfields are all-weather and can 
handle the largest Soviet aircraft, see Lewis, p. 294. 


During wartime the remaining motor rifle divi- 
sions in the Leningrad Military District will be mobilized 
and moved into positions to support the forces already 
stationed on the Kola Peninsula. Together these forces will 
give the Northwestern TVD a total strength of at least ten 
divisions with 2,400 tanks, 2,100 artillery pieces, and 98 
surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs). 80 Additional forces are 
available from outside of the District and it is estimated 
that the mobilization time for all of these forces would be 
one to two weeks. 81 What this means is that "while an attack 
'out of the blue' remains unlikely, a strike with the 
limited objective of neutralizing northern Norway could be 
mounted in six or seven days." 82 Senior Norwegian military 
personnel estimate the Soviets could mount a successful 
attack on northern Norway with essentially the forces that 
they maintain during peacetime. They frankly state that 
with an operational objective of occupying northern Norway 
as rapidly as possible 

Soviet forces would need from four to ten divisions, 
including one naval-infantry brigade, up to one airborne 
division, one or more air-assault regiments and army 
level support forces . . , as well as up to 130 
fighter/ground attack aircraft. 83 

Table VII summarizes the forces available to 
both sides during the initial stages of such an attack. 
2 . Opportunities for Conflict 

As previously stated the next aspect of the Soviet 
threat to Norway has the most serious implications for NATO. 
Because of Norway's close proximity to the Soviet Union, it 
is extremely vulnerable to Soviet attack. This 

8 "International Institute for Strategic Studies p. 26. 
81 Holst, p. 70. 

82 Ibid. , p. 879. 
83 Ibid. , pp. 877-878 





TANKS: 100 2,400 

ARTILLERY: 380 2,100 

AIRCRAFT : 92 1,27 * * 

* 15 Brigades- three brigades per division 
** Includes all aircraft stationed in the Leningrad 
Military District. 

vulnerability becomes critical when viewed in the context of 
several disputes that have dominated Soviet-Norwegian rela- 
tions for a number of years. These disputes are similar to 
problems encountered by many neighboring countries, but they 
take on much greater significance because of the impact they 
could have on the possibility of conflict between NATO and 
the Warsaw Pact. If the Soviets choose to impose their will 
on the Norwegians and elect to resolve any of these disputes 
by exercising their vast military superiority, the ensuing 
conflict could drag NATO into a direct confrontation with 
the Soviet Union. 

There are three major areas of disagreement between 
the Soviet Union and Norway: control of the Svalbard 
Archipelago (including the Spitzbergen group of islands, 
Bear^Island, and Hopen Island), the exploitation of offshore 
resources (particularly fish and oil), and the continental 
shelf dividing line. Each of these disputes have strategic, 
economic, and political implications that could easily lead 
to a crisis, but so far both countries have demonstrated a 
willingness to negotiate and exercise restraint. The ques- 
tion is--How long will the Soviets accept the status quo? 


a. Svalbard 

Under the Svalbard Treaty of 1920, Norway has 
"full and absolute sovereignty" over the entire Svalbard 
Archipelago . 8 * All 41 signatories to the Treaty have the 
right to mine, fish, and hunt on the Archipelago, but only 
the Soviet Union exercises that right. With permanent 
communities in the Spitzbergen mining towns of Barentsburg 
and Pyramiden (see Figure 3.2) totalling about 2,600 people, 
the Soviets out-number their Norwegian hosts by more than 
two to one. 85 Coal mining is the stated reason for the 
Soviet presence on Spitzbergen, but "it is worth noting that 
the coal extraction of the Russians is considerably 
less-400,000 tons yearly- than that of the Norwegians 86 . 

Despite the apparent economic reasons for the 
Soviet presence, there is little doubt that the real Soviet 
interest in these islands is strategic in nature. As the 
central pillar of the gap through which the Soviet Northern 
Fleet must pass to get to the North Atlantic, the geo- 
strategic significance of Svalbard is obvious. When consid- 
ering its location in relation to the Soviet SSBN bastions 
in the Barents Sea, the Archipelago takes on even greater 
importance. Soviet recognition of the strategic importance 
of Svalbard can be linked to an attempt by the Soviet 
government to have the Svalbard Treaty revoked in 1944. 87 
What the Soviets sought, and continue to seek up to the 
present, is the establishment of a Soviet-Norwegian condo- 
minium to administer Svalbard and sovereignty over Bear 
Island. The Norwegians were able to reject the Soviet 

8 ''Amundsen, p. 12. 

85 There are approximately 1,200 Norwegians on 
Spitzbergen at Longyearbyen. The purpose of the community 
is coal mining and its annual production is about 450,000 
tons . Ibid. , p. 16 . 

86 Ibid. 

87 Ibid. 















Afd M 


(Source: Amundsen, p. 17.) 

Figure 3.2 Svalbard. 

demands because of the U.S. policy of containment and are 
now protected by their membership in NATO. 


The Svalbard Treaty also bans military installa- 
tions and stipulates that the territories ". . . may never 
be used for military purposes." 88 The Norwegians strictly 
adhere to the provisions of the Treaty and as the sovereign 
power they are responsible for the laws that govern 
Svalbard. However, the record clearly shows that the 
Soviets have frequently and systematically violated both the 
provisions of the Treaty as well as Norwegian laws. These 
violations are interpreted as a strong Soviet challenge to 
Norwegian authority on the Islands. 

The most notable example of the tension created 
by these violations occurred in 1978 when a Soviet Tu-126 
radar plane (the same basic type of aircraft as the. U.S. 
AWACS) crashed on Hopen Island. At that time Norwegian 
concerns about Soviet military related activities on 
Svalbard were on the rise. The Norwegians were particularly 
suspicious about the mission of the aircraft because they 
had recently uncovered a covert Soviet attempt to construct 
an • airstrip and radar installation at Kapp Heer near 
Barentsburg. When the plane's flight recorder was recovered 
by the local Norwegians, Soviet commandos attempted to go 
ashore and forcibly take it back. A Norwegian gunboat had 
to prepare to fire on the Soviets to keep them from 
landing. 89 This leads one to wonder what the Norwegians 
would have done if the Soviets had not backed down, 
b. Resource Competition 

The Barents and Norwegian Seas are rich with 
resources that are important not only to Norway, but also to 
the Soviet Union. As a result of this situation, exploita- 
tion of these resources is a major source of controversy. 
Fish is a mainstay of the Nordic diet and it is an important 
source of protein for the Soviet people. Because of the 

88 Ibid. 
89 Leighton, p. 17. 


abundance of fish found in these seas, they are important 
fishing areas for both countries. Soviet fishing activities 
in these waters have been so extensive that they threaten 
Norwegian supplies. 

It has been reported that the Barents and Norwegian Seas 
provide for more than 300,000 tons of the Soviet 
northern fisheries fleet's annual catch of something 
over one million tons. 90 

During the late 1970' s, the Soviet threat to 
Norway's fish supply became so great that the Norwegians had 
to take action to protect their interests. The Norwegians 
extended their fisheries limit and they established a 
200-mile economic zone in accordance with the Law of the Sea 
Conference in 1977. 

In addition to the abundant supply of fish found 
in the Barents and Norwegian Seas, substantial oil and gas 
reserves have also been discovered on the continental shelf 
beneath these seas. "One estimate is that Barents Sea oil 
reserves may be up to twice as large as proven North Sea 
reserves." 91 These reserves represent a considerable find 
for the West, but they are located in a region that is 
particularly sensitive to the Soviets. Although the Soviets 
will undoubtedly explore the potential of the reserves in 
their part of the shelf, they have already expressed 
displeasure with the idea of international oil companies 
exploiting Norwegian reserves in the Barents. 92 

90 Kenneth A. Myers, North Atlantic Security : The 
Forgotten Flank ? , The Washington Papers, voir. *T, no. — £2 
(Beverly Hills and London: Sage Publications for the Center 
for Strategic and International Studies, 1979), p. 46. 

91 Ibid. 
92 Amundsen, p. 20 


c. The Grey Zone 

The third major area of controversy between 
Norway and the Soviet Union is the location of the conti- 
nental shelf dividing line. There is no agreement between 
the two parties over the appropriate method for determining 
the boundary and the area of disagreement (over 57,900 
square miles) has become known as the Grey Zone. Figure 3.3 
shows the difference between the two principles with the 
heavy line being the Median Line and the thin line being the 
Sector Line. 

Negotiations between Norway and the Soviet Union 
to settle this dispute were started in the early 1970' s, and 
a temporary agreement (the Grey Zone Agreement) was reached 
in 1977. 93 The Norwegians base their position in this 
dispute on the Continental Shelf Convention of 1958 which 
states that the 'Median Line Principle' will be used if the 
parties are unable to agree on the boundary of the shelf. 9 ^ 
Even though the Soviets ratified the 1958 Convention, they 
refuse to accept its solution to the problem. They insist 
on the 'Sector Principle' which is based on a 1926 unilat- 
eral decree that claims complete Soviet sovereignty " . 
over all lands, islands, and ice within the sector line 
between Northern Russia and the North Pole." 95 The Norwegian 
position is obviously more legitimate, but the Grey Zone 
Agreement represents tacit approval of the Soviet position 
by Norway. 

A Soviet military solution for any one of these 
disputes is highly unlikely at the present time because of 
the deterrent effect of Norway's membership in NATO, but 

9 3 

Ibid. , pp. 13-15. 

9 ''"The technical definition of a median line: a line, 
every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points 
on the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial 
seas of each of two coastal states is measured." Myers, p. 

95 Amundsen, p. 13. 


(Source: Amundsen, p. 14.) 

Figure 3.3 The Grey Zone. 

this does not remove the threat. What these disputes really 
give Moscow are opportunities to exert pressure on the 
Norwegian government by manipulating the internal political 
forces that favor neutrality and avoidance of friction with 
the Soviet Union at all costs. 


3 . A Neutralized Norway 

The Soviets appear to be pursuing a peacetime stra- 
tagem on the Northern Flank that is aimed at neutralizing 
Norway and maintaining or improving their already consider- 
able military superiority in the region. Their deception 
plan is based on an all-out political offensive that is 
designed to exploit traditional Norwegian isolationist and 
anti-nuclear tendencies. With the military forces on the 
Kola Peninsula as a source of leverage; the Soviets are 
employing propaganda, agents of influence, espionage, and 
covert military operations against Norway to achieve what 
could be a decisive advantage in the region. Their imme- 
diate aim is to militarily isolate Norway from the United 
States and the rest of NATO. This sense of isolation allows 
the Soviets to exercise undue influence over Norwegian 
national security policy-making which in itself perpetuates 
the process. This strategy is consistent with the overall 
approach that the Soviets have followed in Scandinavia since 
the end of World War II. 

. . . throughout the post-war years Moscow has sought 
to weaken Scandinavian ties with the West and to make of 
Northern Europe a sort of neutral, ideally pro-Soviet, 
extension of the buffer zone which is created by force 
in the Baltic Republics and Eastern Europe. 35 

The long-term goal of the Soviet stratagem is to get 
Norway out of NATO before the outbreak of a major East-West 
war. By achieving this goal the Soviets would reduce NATO's 
control over the movements of the Northern Fleet, improve 
the defensive posture of the Kola Peninsula, and greatly 
increase their threat to NATO's Northern Flank. The mili- 
tary build-up on the Kola Peninsula is the key element of 
the Soviet effort to achieve this goal. The forces assem- 
bled by Moscow on the Peninsula send a clear signal to Oslo 

"German, p. 55. 


that accommodation with the Soviet Union is Norway's only 
course of action. To take this line of thinking to the 
extreme, the worst-case scenario for NATO would be 

If the USSR s expanding naval power, increasingly 
offensive-oriented airpower, and ground forces in the 
region convince the Nordic countries that U.S. power 
4,000 miles distant is no match for Soviet strength in 

flace, the war could be lost even before a shot is 
ired. 97 

Realizing that Norway's withdrawal from NATO is not 
likely to happen in the very near future, the Soviets are 
pursuing the short-term goal of maintaining or improving 
their already considerable military advantage in the region. 
If war is 'forced' on the Soviets by the West before Norway 
has been neutralized, the Soviets would ideally like to take 
Norway out at minimal cost. To accomplish this objective 
the Soviets manipulate the 'Nordic Balance' to their own 
advantage. The Nordic Balance is a concept that implies 
maintenance of the the status quo in the region. What it 
really means in Scandinavia is that the Soviets will 
continue to show restraint concerning their relationship 
with Finland as long as the other Nordic members of NATO 
continue to restrict their participation in the Alliance. 
State Secretary Hoist describes this situation as follows: 

It is recognized in all Nordic capitals that decisions 
amounting to major deviations from the established 
pattern could alter the calculus in the other Nordic 
countries and the external pressures which influence 
that calculus. 98 

Military diplomacy is the term that best describes 
the Soviet efforts to exert pressure on the Norwegians. 
Through the military build-up on the Kola, the Soviets hope 

97 Leighton, p. 95 
98 Holst, p. 63. 


to erode Norwegian political and military self-confidence. 
Along with this erosion of self-confidence, they also hope 
to erode Norway's confidence in NATO and its ability to 
provide assistance in a crisis situation. This erosion of 
confidence helps to isolate Norway from the West and it 
increases the influence that the Soviets have on Norwegian 
policy-making. If they are not challenged by Norway and 
NATO, the Soviets will continue 

pursuing long-range objectives patiently and 
persistently: applying alternating waves of threat; 
cajoling, and banishment; supplementing diplomatic pres- 
sures with propaganda efforts to stimulate domestic 
pressures on governments; and using the unilateral 
concessions of neighbors as levers for obtaining still 
more concessions from them. 39 

The three following examples of Soviet interference 
in Norwegian affairs provide helpful insight into the Soviet 
peacetime offensive in Norway. In each case the Soviets 
manipulated the Nordic Balance to suit their propaganda 
needs and flagrantly employed military diplomacy to force 
the Norwegians to make concessions. Under these pressures 
the best that Norway and NATO could hope for was to break 

a. A Nordic Nuclear Weapon Free Zone 

Since the late 1950 's the Soviet Union has 
pushed for a Nordic Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) that 
would include all of the Scandinavian countries, but exclude 
the Soviet Union. Although the basic idea appeals to the 
Norwegians, each proposal for a Nordic NWFZ has been consis- 
tently rejected by Norway because the proposals fail to 
include the Soviets. 

President Kekkonen of Finland assumed a leader- 
ship role in these efforts to achieve a Nordic NWFZ. His 
latest proposal in May 1978, had very serious implications 



for Norway and NATO because it sought to extend the ban on 
nuclear weapons into wartime. 100 This would mean that NATO's 
response to a Soviet attack on Norway would be limited to 
conventional means and all deterrence in the region would be 
based solely on the threat of NATO reinforcements. 

Realizing the advantage that acceptance of this 
proposal would give them, the Soviets expended considerable 
effort to sway Norwegian public opinion. The effort of 
their propaganda machine was so successful that by the 
spring of 1981 the ruling Labor Party had decided to endorse 
a Nordic NWFZ despite the negative impact it would have on 
NATO's ability to deter an attack on Norway. Surprisingly, 
the Labor government even indicated that it was prepared to 
extend the ban on nuclear weapons into wartime without 
restrictions on Soviet weapons. 

At this time elections were being held in Norway 
and the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev went so far as to hint 
that the Soviet Union might be prepared to accept some 
restrictions on its own nuclear weapons in the region if a 
NWFZ was accepted by the Nordic countries. All of these 
efforts were for naught because the Conservative Party won 
enough seats during the election to form a coalition govern- 
ment and effectively block any NWFZ proposal with a one vote 
majority. x ° l 

b. NATO Exercises in Norway 

Since the early 1960's, the Soviets have consis- 
tently protested regular NATO exercises in northern Norway, 
". . . calling them provocative, threatening, and-of course- 
violations of Norway's base policy." 102 These protests took 


Leighton, p. 39-40 

10 In 1982, the Norwegian nuclear disarmament movement 
collected 540,000 signatures for a Nordic NWFZ and the Labor 
Party came out with a strong nuclear freeze program. Nils 
P. Gleditsch, "The Freeze in Norway," Bulletin or the Atomic 
Scientists 39 (November 1983): 32-34. " 

102 German, p. 70. 


on an added dimension in 1977, when Soviet leaders expressed 
considerable displeasure with NATO plans to include a 1,500 
man West German contingent in upcoming ACE Mobile Force 
exercises in Northern Norway. 103 This deployment of German 
troops to Norway represented the continuation of a trend 
that had been established in the mid- 1970' s, but under 
Soviet pressure the Norwegian government reversed its posi- 
tion and vetoed the participation of the West German combat 
unit. 10 '* 

c. The Prepositioning of NATO War Supplies 

The debate over whether or not to preposition 
the heavy equipment for the U.S. MAB is another example of 
Soviet interference in Norwegian politics. Prepositioning 
the MAB ' s heavy equipment would reduce its deployment time 
from weeks to days. Successful implementation of this 
program would strengthen deterrence, improve Norway's 
defenses, and significantly reduce NATO transport require- 
ments for Norway. Soviet propaganda again played a major 
role in the public debate. In September 1980, a poll was 
taken concerning this issue and an overwhelming majority (78 
percent) of respondents believed that it was impossible to 
defend northern Norway without prestocking Allied equipment. 
Despite this consensus of opinion, only 58 percent of the 
population actually supported stockpiling NATO equipment in 
Norway. 105 As a result of Soviet influence, the equipment 
for the Brigade was stockpiled in central Norway instead of 
northern Norway where it was really needed. 

1 ° 3 Leighton, pp. 26-27. 
10 "German, pp. 71-72. 
105 Amundsen, p. 43. 



The strategic imperative on NATO's Northern Flank is the 
defense of Norway. It is essential to recognize that Norway 
is the key to the Flank and that NATO must provide for its 
defense. If NATO fails to provide for a credible defense of 
Norway, it invites Soviet aggression in the northern region 
which could lead to World War III. 

Based on the strategic situation as it is described in 
chapter 3, the fundamental goals of NATO on the Northern 
Flank are deterrence, the defense of Norway, and the protec- 
tion of the North Atlantic SLOCs . The task of NATO's stra- 
tegic planners is to determine the most effective means of 
achieving these goals. It is believed that the first step 
in this process should be to ascertain what tasks (or stra- 
tegic objectives) are necessary to achieve these goals. 
After this determination of objectives, various strategic 
options can be evaluated relative to their specific accom- 
plishment of these tasks. An objective analysis of the 
advantages and disadvantages of each strategic option is 
critical to the process. Political, economic, and other 
pertinent constraints must also be considered, but it is 
important not to lose sight of the ultimate goals. In the 
end this process should lead to the formulation of a 
strategy that meets the objectives and achieves the goals. 


There are two basic strategic objectives that must be 
addressed by any NATO strategy on the Northern Flank. 
First, the strategy must provide for sufficient reinforce- 
ments early enough in a crisis to deter Soviet aggression or 
to defeat an invasion if deterrence fails. Second, the 
strategy must provide a means of achieving control of the 
Norwegian Sea to maintain the war effort in Norway. If 


these two objectives are met by a strategy, all three of the 
stated goals should be achieved by NATO in the region. 
1. Adequate and Timely Reinforcement 

Because of Norway's self-imposed restrictions on its 
participation in NATO, a credible Norwegian deterrent is 
contingent upon NATO's ability to provide reinforcements 
during a crisis situation. A NATO capability to reinforce 
Norway with sufficient forces early in a crisis not only 
supports deterrence, but it also enhances Norway's defense 
if deterrence fails. 

To make deterrence work on the Northern Flank, it is 
important that non-Norwegian NATO troops are sent to Norway 
during the early stages of a crisis. This step should be 
taken so that it is clear to the Soviets that an attack on 
Norway is an attack on NATO. Even a small force with rela- 
tively limited firepower (ACE Mobile Force) would demon- 
strate NATO's resolve and strengthen deterrence. State 
Secretary Hoist describes this relationship as follows: 

Establishing a high probability of having to fight 
non-Norwegian forces at an early stage of an attack on 
Norway is considered particularly important from the 
point of view of raising the risk level. 106 

Because of the geography of Norway, the defense of 
northern Norway is the key to the defense of the rest of the 
country. The terrain in the north provides a natural 
barrier that more than makes up for the numerical inferi- 
ority of its defenders. Unfortunately, the situation 
changes further south in central Norway where the terrain 
advantage is essentially lost. If the Soviets are able to 
break-through Norwegian defenses in the north, there will be 
little left to prevent them from over-running the rest of 
the country. According to the assessment of General Bowman, 

106 Holst, p. 70. 


the Norwegians will be successful in the north if they are 
able to reinforce at half the Soviet rate. Initially, they 
should be able to achieve this rate of reinforcement, but 
without large numbers of NATO ground and air reinforcements 
this rate cannot be sustained by the Norwegians alone. 
"Norwegian capacity to hold out alone against a Soviet 
attack is estimated to be three weeks." 107 

This situation leads to the long war versus short 
war debate which is just as critical to the strategic situ- 
ation on the Northern Flank as it is to the situation on the 
Central Front. What makes the two situations much different 
is that the forces in Norway would have a distinct advantage 
in a short war scenario. Norway's terrain and climate are 
such an advantage for its defenders that even under ideal 
weather conditions it will take the Soviets several days to 
arrive at the main Norwegian defense line in Troms . If the 
Norwegians have adequate warning and they are able to mobi- 
lize their reserves before the Soviets actually start their 
offensive, the Soviet advance on Troms could take weeks and 
it would be very costly in men and material. 

There are three aspects of the reinforcement effort 
in Norway that are essential to the successful defense of 
the country. First, the Norwegians must control the 
airspace above northern Norway to allow for movement of 
their own reserves to the north. Without control of the air 
above northern Norway, reinforcement by air becomes 
doubtful. Second, NATO must provide sufficient aircraft 
reinforcements early enough in the campaign to make up for 
Norwegian losses and to maintain control of Norwegian 
airspace. These aircraft are necessary to keep Norwegian 
airfields operational and to protect their coastal SLOCs . 
The aircraft involved will also be critically needed to 
support Norwegian forces fighting on the ground and at sea. 

107 Ries, "Defending the Far North," p. 879. 


Finally, NATO ground reinforcements must arrive in adequate 
numbers to shift the balance on the ground in favor of the 
Alliance and to overcome initial Soviet gains. It is also 
critical that these reinforcements are equipped and trained 
to fight in Norway's harsh conditions so that they can make 
a real contribution to the defense effort. 
2. Control of the Norwegian Sea 

Control of the sea (or sea control) is the essential 
element of seapower and history tells us that it can only be 
decisively achieved by defeating the enemy's naval 
forces. 108 This approach to achieving control of the sea is 
endorsed by the U.S. Navy and it not only guides its opera- 
tional planning, but also its procurement policies. A March 
1982, Congressional Budget Office Report on the '600-Ship 
Navy' states the Navy's position on this issue as follows: 

The Navy believes that the most efficient way to gain 
and maintain control of the seas during wartime would be 
to destroy hostile forces capable of challenging that 
control. This would include frontal assaults against 
Soviet naval forces and their supporting bases in Soviet 
home waters. Aircraft carrier battle groups would be 
the instrument of such offensive action. 09 

used as 

To achieve sea control in a given area of the 
world's oceans, a naval force must be capable of exercising 
control over its environment above, below, and on the 
surface of the sea. This multi-environment aspect of sea 
control is often ignored or misunderstood by people who are 
are unfamiliar with naval strategy. It is for this reason 
that submarines are not by themselves considered to be sea 
control platforms because of their inability to control the 
airspace above the surface. On the other hand, the modern 

10 "Geoffrey Till, Maritime Strategy and the Nuclear Age 
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1982), pp.-9T-TTO. 

109 U.S., Congress, Congressional Budget Office, Building 
a 600-Ship Navy: Costs, Timing , and Alternative Approaches ^ 
by Peter J . Tarpgaard (Washington"; D . CTT Government Printing 
Office, March 1982) p. 6. 


aircraft carrier with attack, fighter, and ASW aircraft 
embarked is considered the ideal sea control platform 
because of its ability to achieve control in all warfare 
environments. When the aircraft carrier is combined with a 
powerful array of surface and submarine escorts, it becomes 
the most potent sea control force in the world. Admiral 
James D. Watkins , the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), who 
is himself a submariner, assesses the sea control capability 
of the aircraft carrier and its battle group as follows: 

The carrier battle group - with its ability to assert 
control across the four dimensions of surface, subsur- 
face, air and land warfare - is the sine qua non of 
modern sea power. l ° 

What is important to recognize about sea control is 
that it is not an end in itself, but a means to achieve an 
ultimate objective. In the case of NATO and the Norwegian 
Sea, sea control is necessary to reinforce and resupply 
Norway during a war with the Soviet Union. Additionally, 
control of the Norwegian Sea will also severely limit Soviet 
access to the North Atlantic. If deterrence fails, the 
basic goals of NATO in the northern region are to defend 
Norway and the North Atlantic SLOCs . Control of the 
Norwegian Sea will enable the Alliance to achieve both of 
these goals. The view is that the battle for the control of 
the Norwegian Sea will largely determine the outcome of the 
battle for the Atlantic SLOCs. Admiral Wesley L. McDonald, 
the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT), describes 
this relationship as follows: 

. . . SACLANT stands on the fact that he is commited to 
reinforce and resupply Europe. That is our primary 
mission and one of the requirements, as I perceive it, 
is the reinforcement of Norway. As we do that we are 

110 James D. Watkins, Sea Power - the Carrier Battle 
Group," NATO's Sixteen Nations, special issue 1 (1984), p. 


foing to have to project forces into the Norwegian Sea. 
then find myself in a situation where the battle for 
the Norwegian Sea and the Battle for the Atlantic are 
inextricably entwined; there is no way of separating one 
from the other. 111 

The essence of this discussion about sea control is 
that "given Soviet priorities and NATO capabilities, sea 
control can be established more rapidly by going after the 
Soviet Fleet rather than awaiting their attack." 112 What 
this means in the Norwegian Sea is that the U.S. Navy, using 
its carrier battle groups and with the assistance of the 
maritime forces of its NATO Allies, would like to seek a 
decisive battle with the Soviet Northern Fleet. If the Navy 
is successful in this battle, it will move forward to 
contain the Northern Fleet in the Barents Sea and strike at 
its bases on the Kola Peninsula. When this process is 
complete NATO will have control of the Norwegian Sea and the 
Alliance's maritime forces will be free to support opera- 
tions ashore. 


There are four basic strategic options available to NATO 
in the northern region of the Northern Flank. The first and 
most obvious option, is an expansion of NATO's means of 
deterrence. If Norway would revoke its self-imposed basing 
restrictions, both for foreign troops and nuclear weapons, 
NATO could employ the same deterrent options in Norway that 
it does on the Central Front. This approach appears to be 
the most logical solution to the problem, but it is also the 
least likely to be implemented because of political 
constraints . 

NATO's second basic option is a strategy that is aimed 
at reducing the time involved in reinforcing Norway. This 

lxl Derek Wood, "Soviets Expand Maritime Air Power, 
Jane's Defence Weekly , 20 April 1985, p. 652. 

1 x 2 Wood and Hanley, p. 15. 


approach recognizes the political constraints in Norway and 
seeks to address the problem within the framework outlined 
by Minister of Defense Hauge in 1951. The main thrust of 
this strategy is centered on increasing the amount of prepo- 
sitioned war supplies in Norway which would significantly 
reduce the deployment time and sea lift requirements of 
NATO's reinforcements. 

The third basic strategic alternative is a defensive 
strategy that accepts Soviet dominance of the Norwegian Sea 
and concentrates NATO's naval forces south of the GIUK gap 
to protect the North Atlantic SLOCs . A maritime barrier at 
the GIUK gap is the centerpiece of this strategy. The 
barrier, made up of maritime patrol aircraft, nuclear- 
powered attack submarines (SSNs), and land-based air defense 
aircraft, will be deployed to hold Soviet submarines and 
strike aircraft north of the Gap. NATO carrier battle 
groups will be employed south of the Gap as sea control 
forces to protect the SLOCs. Additional NATO submarines 
will carry out a sea denial campaign against the Soviets in 
the Norwegian Sea. 

A forward defense that challenges the Soviet Northern 
Fleet in the Norwegian Sea is the final strategic option 
available to NATO. It is articulated in the U.S. Navy's 
Maritime Strategy and it is essentially the strategy that 
NATO has employed in the Northern Region since the beginning 
of the Alliance. Opponents of this strategy insist that it 
is no longer viable^ because the Alliance has lost its 
ability to project its maritime power into the Norwegian 

1. Elimination of Norwegian Basing Restrictions 

The basic strategic problem for NATO on the Northern 
Flank is the maintenance of an effective deterrent in the 
region. Norway's basing restrictions effectively limit the 
range of NATO's deterrent options to the threat of rein- 
forcement during a crisis and the possible use of nuclear 


weapons during a major war. Currently, reinforcement and 
resupply of Norway depends on NATO's capability to control 
the Norwegian Sea and the massive Soviet military build-up 
on the Kola Peninsula threatens that capability. The 
Soviets realize that 

NATO's commitment to defend Norway could be met only if 
the Norwegians themselves, in the first instance, 
requested Allied reinforcements to deter or repel an 
attack, and then only if the Allies were able to respond 
rapidly and effectively. Moscow's long-range efforts 
are directed toward assuring that neither of these 
conditions could be met. 113 

If the Norwegians were to remove their restrictions 
on the basing of foreign troops and/or nuclear weapons, then 
NATO's capability to deter Soviet aggression in the region 
would be greatly enhanced. In fact, revocation of the 
basing restrictions could eliminate the need for reinforce- 
ments completely while at the same time improving the 
overall Norwegian defense posture. With contingents of 
non-Norwegian troops and aircraft based in Norway along with 
their nuclear weapons, the need for immediate reinforcements 
would no longer exist. The campaign to establish control of 
the Norwegian Sea could be delayed until the submarine 
threat to American carrier battle groups is reduced. This 
delay would allow NATO maritime forces to concentrate on 
other problems, at least at the beginning of the war. 

While the implementation of this strategy in Norway 
would great 1^ enhance deterrence and defense on the Northern 
Flank, internal Norwegian opposition to the plan makes it 
unrealistic as a strategic option. The depth of Norwegian 
opposition to the revocation of the restrictions cannot be 
over-emphasized. Public outcry against the prepositioning 
of NATO war supplies is a clear indication of where the 
Norwegians would stand on this issue. Even though the 

1 x 3 German, p. 56 . 


Norwegian people recognize the need to improve their 
defenses, they clearly would not accept the basing of 
foreign troops to accomplish this improvement at the present 

Public opposition to the basing of nuclear weapons 
in Norway could be expected to be even stronger than the 
opposition to the basing of foreign troops. It has already 
been pointed out that in 1982, the Norwegian Labor Party was 
ready to accept a Soviet proposal for a Nordic Nuclear 
Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) that includes all Scandinavian coun- 
tries, but excludes the Soviet Union. They were even 
willing to extend the ban on nuclear weapons into a war 
between NATO and the Warsaw Pact without similar concessions 
from the Soviets. Although it is true that the Labor Party 
has not benefited from this position by regaining control of 
the Government, there is little consolation in the fact that 
the Conservative Party currently controls the Government. 
The Conservatives can only count on a narrow majority in the 
Storting on nuclear issues and they consistently trail Labor 
in the polls . * x k 

Another crucial factor in this assessment is the 
role of Soviet Union influence in Norwegian decision-making. 
Unquestionably, the Soviets would interpret the revocation 
of the basing restrictions as an act of aggression. Since 
the imposition of the restrictions by the Norwegians ". . 
the Soviets have consistently chosen to regard the base 
policy as a binding obligation." 115 

2. Increased Prepositioning of NATO War Supplies 

Since agreeing to the prepositioning of the heavy 
equipment for the U.S. Marine Amphibious Brigade in 1981, 
considerable progress has been made to improve the stock- 
piles of prepositioned NATO equipment and war supplies. 

1 14 Gleditsch, pp. 33-34. 
115 German, p. 62. 


Unfortunately, the heavy equipment for the CAST Brigade, the 
only earmarked ground reinforcements for Norway, is not yet 
prepositioned although negotiations are underway. 116 
Increasing these stockpiles in Norway could greatly improve 
NATO's deterrent posture in the region, but the political 
constraints cannot be ignored. 

At first glance it appears that stockpiling of war 
supplies and heavy equipment could solve many of Norway's 
defensive problems. It allows the rapid and relatively 
secure deployment of NATO's reinforcements which greatly 
enhances deterrence. The need for strategic warning would 
be reduced and if deterrence fails, these forces could be in 
position at the outbreak of a war instead of in the middle 
of the North Atlantic on slow moving troop transports. 

There are however, problems with a strategy that 
relies to heavily on the prepositioning of war supplies. 
The first major problem is the vulnerability of the stock- 
piled equipment to Soviet attack. It would be unrealistic 
to think that the Soviets would not attack the storage areas 
for the prepositioned equipment. Although these facilities 
are being constructed to reduce their vulnerability to air 
attack, there is still the threat to Spetsnaz initiated 
sabotage as well as airborne assault. These large storage 
areas are in themselves incentives for a Soviet surprise 
attack. If such an attack were successful, NATO reinforce- 
ments would lack the arms, equipment, and ammunition that 
they would need to make the necessary contribution to the 
defense of Norway. 

A second problem with prepositioning of NATO war 
supplies in Norway is the threat posed by Soviet long-range 
strike assets (aircraft, missiles, and air-mobile troops) to 
the Norwegian terminals of the air bridge across the North 
Atlantic. If the Soviets are able to put Norway's airfields 

116 Belzile, p. 24. 


out of action at the beginning of a war, then NATO's 
reinforcements will have no place to land. Surely, the 
Soviets recognize the importance of Norway's airfields to 
NATO's reinforcement plans. Norway's airfields will 
undoubtedly be subjected to repeated attacks by the Soviets. 
These attacks could mean that NATO's reinforcements may 
never make it into Norway unless they are in position at the 
outbreak of hostilities. 

Another related consideration is the Soviet capa- 
bility to intercept the airliners that are flying the troops 
into Norway. The latest generation of Soviet fighter 
aircraft has the range capability to make such a threat 
possible. If the Soviets are able to capture airfields in 
northern Norway, NATO reinforcement by air would become a 
very risky undertaking. A successful Soviet airlane inter- 
diction campaign could prove to be a reality and it would be 
very costly for NATO. 

The vulnerability of the prepositioned equipment and 
the terminals of the airbridge are problems that can be 
reduced by hardening of the storage areas and improving the 
survivability of the airfields. If NATO receives adequate 
warning and its reinforcements are in position at the start 
of war, these vulnerabilities can be completely overcome. 
Even with reduced vulnerability and adequate warning, this 
strategy fails to directly address the issue of controlling 
the Norwegian Sea. As an independent strategy, it should 
not be endorsed as a solution to NATO's problems on the 
Northern Flank. Because of its capability to strengthen 
deterrence, it should be incorporated into any strategy that 
is employed by NATO in the region. 

3 . A Defensive Barrier at the GIUK Gap 

In the late 1970' s, when American naval power was at 
lowest point since the end of World War II, a defensive 
strategy based on a maritime barrier at the GIUK gap 
appeared to be NATO's only strategic alternative on the 


Northern Flank. It was rationalized that NATO no longer had 
the naval forces that it needed to simultaneously control 
the Norwegian Sea and protect the North Atlantic SLOCs . The 
implications of this apparent lack of capability caused 
considerable controversy in the United States and NATO. The 
New York Times reported this change in strategy as follows: 

The Navy, balancing present and future resources against 
its tasks in a global war with the Soviet Union, has 
concluded that two of its major missions, establishing 
lines of communication and supply across the Atlantic to 
Europe and achieving control in the Norwegian Sea area, 
must be carried out sequentially rather than 
simultaneously. x l 7 

The basic problem was that NATO simply lacked the 
necessary escorts (destroyers and frigates) to simultane- 
ously defend convoys and control the Norwegian Sea. 
Unfortunately, this shortage of escorts still exists today 
and the extent of this shortage was revealed by Admiral Sir 
William Staveley, Commander-in-Chief Channel (CINCHAN) , in 
1984. Admiral Staveley disclosed that the Atlantic and 
Channel command areas were fifty percent short of escorts 
and were even worse off for mine counter-measure vessels. 118 
The shortage of escorts coupled with the quantitative and 
qualitative improvements in the Soviet Navy during the 
1970 's alarmed Western strategic planners enough to cause a 
'circle the wagons' mentality to become prevalent. 

Soviet submarines and long-range strike aircraft are 
the main threats to the North Atlantic SLOCs. Of these 
threats the submarines are considered to be the most diffi- 
cult problem for the Alliance simply because of the uncer- 
tain nature of ASW and the sheer numbers of Soviet 

117 Drew Middleton, "Navy Sees Limit on Ability in 
Atlantic War," New York Times, 20 February 1980, p. A6 . 

11 "Robert Hutchinson and Antony Preston, "NATO Is 50% 
Short of Escorts, Says Admiral,' Jane ' s Defence Weekly 14 
January 1984, p. 9. 


submarines that are available. Admiral McDonald frankly 
states that 

If the Soviet Northern Fleet submarine force is not 
contained north of the GIUK gap then the battle for the 
Atlantic and ultimately the defense of Western Europe 
would become critical. 1 

The major components of this strategy are designed 
specifically to counter these threats through a layered 
defense of the SLOCs . In the first NATO defensive layer, 
SSNs would carry out a sea denial campaign in the Norwegian 
Sea. Their primary purpose would be to attrite the Northern 
Fleet, concentrating on its submarines, to reduce its offen- 
sive capability. The second layer would be the barrier at 
the GIUK gap. This barrier would be composed of SSNs, mari- 
time patrol aircraft, and land-based air defense intercep- 
tors. Their main purpose would be the attrition of Soviet 
forces attempting to enter the North Atlantic. The forces 
employed along the barrier could be augmented by ASW mine- 
fields and carrier-based aircraft which would be operating 
in a supporting role. Carrier battle groups performing a 
sea control mission along the SLOCs would provide the next 
layer of defense. Their purpose would be to act as a mobile 
reserve force to counter any Soviet forces that penetrate 
the first two layers. The final defensive layer would be 
provided by the naval forces that are actually escorting the 
convoys. Many analysts consider the convoy and its escorts 
to be the most effective system for countering subma- 
rines. 12 ° The effectiveness of the ASW protection provided 

119 Robert Hutchinson and Antony Preston, "Port Mining 
Threat Launches New Look at Reinforcement Plans,' Jane s 
Defence Weekly , 14 January 1984, p. 5. 

120 This conclusion is derived from the experiences of 
World War I and II where the convoy was established as the 
best method of protecting merchant shipping. E. J. Grove, 
"The Convoy Debate," Naval Forces , no. 3 (1985), p. 41. 


by the convoy's escorts could prove once again to be the 
decisive factor in the World War III version of the battle 
for the Atlantic. 

Currently, the most senior American naval leaders 
reject a defensive strategy that calls for a maritime 
barrier at the GIUK gap with no insertion of U.S. aircraft- 
carrier battle groups into the Norwegian Sea. The Secretary 
of the Navy, John F. Lehman; the Chief of Naval Operations, 
Admiral Watkins ; andthe Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, 
Admiral McDonald; all have spoken out strongly against such 
a strategy. 

There are three fundamental problems with a defen- 
sive maritime strategy on the Northern Flank. First and 
foremost among these problems is the fact that the strategy 
concedes the Norwegian Sea to the Soviets. Based on the 
forces that the Soviet Union has available in the region and 
recent Soviet exercises in the area, it is clear that the 
Soviet Northern Fleet will attempt to establish control of 
the Norwegian Sea very early in any conflict with NATO. If 
NATO's response to this Soviet move is a defensive barrier 
at the GIUK gap, the Norwegians will essentially find them- 
selves behind Soviet lines and isolated from their allies. 
This isolation could lead to the fall of Norway and disaster 
for NATO. resistance. Admiral McDonald, (SACLANT), offered 
the following analysis of a GIUK gap barrier defense in 
Jane ' s Defence Weekly : 

I just cannot build a barrier at the 
Greenland-Iceland-UK gap and not go into the Norwegian 
Sea. That allows the Soviets too much freedom in the 
Norwegian Sea and probably forecloses the fact that 
Norway is going to come under great pressure and may in 
fact collapse under that pressure. Therefore you lose 
the flanks and you may, in fact, lose the battle for the 
Atlantic. l 21 

121 Derek Wood, "Soviets Expand Maritime Air Power," 
Jane's Defence Weekly , 20 April 1985, p. 652. 


Secretary Lehman, the Navy's leading advocate for an 
offensive strategy, shares Admiral McDonald's assessment of 
the Soviet threat in the Norwegian Sea and the impact that 
it could have on NATO's Atlantic SLOCs . He asserts that 

Nato s answer to this threat cannot be simply to 
throw a passive barrier across the GIUK . . . Gap. We 
must be able to prevent the Soviets from gaining the 
initiative on the northern flank and from enabling their 
submarines to prey on Atlantic shipping. 122 

The second major problem with this defensive 
approach to the situation on the Northern Flank is that it 
makes no provision for the secure reinforcement and resupply 
of Norway after the outbreak of hostilities. In the context 
of Norway's strategic location, its vulnerable security 
posture, and the nature of the Soviet threat; it becomes 
readily apparent that the Alliance must possess a viable 
means of reinforcing Norway to guarantee its successful 
defense. Additionally, to maintain the war effort and 
civilian population in Norway large quantities of supplies 
will be needed from outside the country. Currently, the 
majority of Norway's reinforcements and almost all. of its 
supplies must come by sea. This defensive strategy assumes 
that Norway could be supplied across the North Sea, but 
without control of the Norwegian Sea this may prove to be a 
much more difficult task than it appears. 123 

Any strategy that isolates Norway from its rein- 
forcements and essential supplies by not challenging the 
Soviets for control of the Norwegian Sea, seals Norway's 
fate and forfeits the advantage of its strategic position. 
In recent testimony before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on 
Sea Power and Force Projection, Secretary Lehman flatly 

12 2 

Lehman, p. 51 

123 With the Northern Fleet in control of the Norwegian 
Sea and the Baltic Fleet pressuring the Danish Straits, the 
North Sea resupply effort seems impossible. 


rejected a defensive strategy based on the GIUK gap for this 
reason. He emphasized that 

It should be clear to everyone that if the NATO treaty 
means anything, it means that we have to protect and to 
hold Norway. The minimum reinforcement plans require 
both the Marines and the Ace mobile force to move by 
sea. They all have to go by ship, to Norway, after the 
conflict breaks out. If we allow the Norwegian Sea to 
be controlled by the Soviet Union, Norway is 
untenable. 1 2 * 

The final criticism of a defensive strategy is that 
it simply is not consistent with the lessons of naval 
history or the fundamentals of sound naval tactics. To many 
strategists, the defensive is considered the dominant 
tactical posture and while this may be true in land warfare, 
it does not apply to war at sea. 

At sea, there has been no counterpart to prepared 
positions and the effects of terrain, nor anything 
corresponding to the rule-of- thumb , 3-to-l attacker-to- 
defender ratio. There are no mountains nor swamps to 
guard flanks, no rivers to cross or defend, and no high 
ground. A fleet tactical commander keeps no force in 
reserve and all his energy is devoted to attacking the 
enemy effectively before the enemy can do so. At sea, 
offense dominates in a way foreign to ground commanders . 
When a tactical commander is not competitive, he had 
better stand clear because . . . .he will have little 
to show for the loss of his force. 125 

In warfare at sea it is the force that seizes the 
initiative, even if it is numerically inferior, that more 
often prevails. The lessons of Salamis, Trafalgar, and 
Midway are still appropriate even in the age of the guided 
missile. When these lessons are viewed in the context of 
Soviet naval operations, exercises, and patterns of 

12U U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Armed Forces. 
Subcommittee on Sea Power and Force Projection, testimony 14 
March 1984, pp. 3870-3871. 

125 Wayne P. Hughes, "On the Integration of Naval Tactics 
and Maritime Strategy," Paper prepared for the May 
Conference on "Maritime Strategy: Issues and Perspectives, ' 
Center for Naval Warfare Studies, U.S. Naval War College, 
15-17 May 1985. 


development, their message is only reinforced. It is quite 
clear that the Soviets would be perfectly happy with a NATO 
maritime strategy that called for a defensive barrier across 
the GIUK gap with no insertion of NATO naval forces into the 
Norwegian Sea. This factor alone should be incentive enough 
to dismiss a defensive strategy in the region. 

On balance a defensive strategy based on a barrier 
at the GIUK gap falls far short of achieving the essential 
strategic objectives on the Northern Flank. First, it makes 
no provision for reinforcing and resupplying Norway after 
the start of a war. Second, this defensive strategy 
concedes the Norwegian Sea to the Soviets at the outset of 
the war which makes NATO's t.ask of regaining control of the 
Norwegian Sea to reinforce and resupply much more difficult. 
4. Forward Defense : The Maritime Strategy 

NATO's final strategic option on the Northern Flank 
is a forward defense strategy that is essentially offensive 
in nature. What makes this approach different than a 
barrier strategy at the GIUK gap is that it calls for 
engaging the enemy as far forward as possible. Instead of 
attempting to hold the Soviets north of the GIUK gap, this 
strategy envisions the Northern Fleet being bottled-up 
behind an offensive barrier at the Greenland-Svalbard-North 
Cape gap. This forward barrier would be supported by 
layered defenses along the access routes to the North 
Atlantic which would include an ASW barrier at the GIUK gap. 
According to Vice Admiral Henry C. Mustin, Commai>ler NATO 
Striking Fleet Atlantic (COMSTRIKFLTLANT) , forward defense 
captures the essence of NATO's most basic strategy which is 
to defend the territorial integrity of its member nations. 
This basic NATO strategy is just as important on the 
Northern Flank as it is on the Central Front, he specifi- 
cally states that 

The maritime objectives of that strategy in the Northern 
Region are to protect Norway from amphibious assault, to 


assist Norway within NATO to resist land and air 
attacks, to prevent the Soviets using Norwegian facili- 
ties against NATO and to contain the Soviet Northern 
Fleet at best by destroying it at sea. 126 

As was previously noted, the U.S. Navy's Maritime 
Strategy is an articulation of the forward defense concept 
and it is in fact the driving force behind NATO's strategy 
on the Northern Flank. The U.S. Navy's Maritime Strategy 
recognizes the absolute necessity of controlling the 
Norwegian Sea. It calls for challenging the Soviets in the 
Norwegian Sea rather than conceding it without a fight. 
Aircraft carrier battle groups, submarines, and land-based 
aircraft will all contribute to the success of this effort. 
The current U.S. Navy leadership believes that such a 
synergistic effort will restore NATO's ability to control 
the Norwegian Sea and significantly reduce the Soviet capa- 
bility to turn the Northern Flank. 

A closer look at the Maritime Strategy reveals the 
key elements of forward defense on the Northern Flank. 
First, the Maritime Strategy is a deterrent strategy. It 
deters because it directly addresses the problems that will 
be encountered during a war with the Soviet Union and it 
provides a means of overcoming those problems. Its founda- 
tion is in war-fighting capability, but it is through war- 
fighting capability that it deters. Recognizing the need to 
control the Norwegian Sea, the Maritime Strategy calls for 
the eventual insertion of carrier battle groups to achieve 
that control. Carrier battle groups will not go charging 
into the Norwegian Sea at the outbreak of war, but they will 
be in a position to move in when Soviet anti-carrier forces 
have been reduced. 

12S Mark Daly, "Protection of Convoy Routes a Key 

Objective for OCEAN SAFARI 85," Jane's Def ence Weekly , 5 

October 1985, p. 751. 


Without a strong force of aircraft carriers in the 
Norwegian Sea, NATO air defenses in the area would be forced 
into a reactive mode of operation. Soviet Backfire bombers 
could exploit gaps in the air defense coverage enroute to 
their targets along the North Atlantic SLOCs . The presence 
of American CVBGs with their long-range F-14 interceptors 
would close those gaps and force the Soviets to counter this 
threat to their bombers before they attack the SLOCs. 
Redundant air defenses including fighters from Norway, 
Iceland, and even Great Britain, as well as the battle 
group's own defenses would make this a very costly endeavor 
for the Soviets. The air defense situation on the Northern 
Flank can be summed-up quite simply: "if the air over the 
North Cape is hotly contested, NATO will control the air 
over the Norwegian Sea." 127 What this means is that the 
Soviets will be too busy contesting NATO in the airspace 
over northern Norway to challenge NATO's control of the air 
over the Norwegian Sea. Operating under these conditions 
the various air defense forces of the Alliance should be- 
able to achieve a highly favorable exchange ratio against 
Soviet bombers that venture out of the Kola Peninsula to 
strike at the battle groups in the Norwegian Sea. If prop- 
erly coordinated, NATO air defenses could virtually elimi- 
nate the bomber threat to the aircraft carriers and the 

Second, the Maritime Strategy is a forward-press 
strategy that seizes the initiative and seeks to engage the 
Soviets on terms that are favorable to the naval forces of 
the Alliance. On the Northern Flank this means that NATO 
will attempt ". . .to have its forces north of the GIUK gap 
before the Soviets are able to deploy their forces to the 
area." 128 Nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) armed 

127 Wood and Hanley, p. 9. 

12 'Stephen Broadbent , "Protection of Convoy Routes a Key 


with ASW torpedoes and cruise missiles will initially take 
the fight to the enemy. Their primary mission will be to 
reduce the number of Soviet submarines that are operating in 
the Norwegian Sea. Maritime patrol aircraft will assist the 
SSNs in this effort while the carrier battle groups are held 
in reserve, waiting for their opportunity to strike. 
Additionally, the SSNs can employ their long-range cruise 
missiles (TLAM-C) in coordinated attacks with deep strike 
aircraft (like the FB-111, A-6E, TORNADO, or even the B-52s) 
against the Soviet bases on the Kola Peninsula. Attacks 
like these could be used to attrite both the long-range 
bomber force and the submarine force. Only after both of 
these threats are reduced will the battle groups move into 
the Norwegian Sea to establish control. 

Strategic warning and the willingness of NATO's 
political leaders to act on that warning are critical to the 
success of this strategy. If NATO fails to gain control of 
the Norwegian Sea before the outbreak of hostilities, the 
Alliance will have to progressively reduce Soviet forces in 
the Norwegian Sea to gain control. This process is commonly 
referred to as roll back and it is the situation that NATO's 
maritime forces will most likely encounter on the Northern 

Third, the Maritime Strategy is a combined-arms and 
coalition strategy. It is not a naval strategy that depends 
solely on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps assets. It is instead 
a joint service strategy that recognizes the unique contri- 
butions of America's allies and the need to integrate all of 
these assets. In addition to the United States and Norway, 
the maritime forces of Britain, the Netherlands, and West 
Germany will be integrated into the effort to gain and main- 
tain control of the Norwegian Sea. 129 

Objective for OCEAN SAFARI 85," Jane ' s Defence Weekly , 5 
October 1985, p. 749. 


The movement of three or more American aircraft 
carrier battle groups into the Norwegian Sea is considered 
necessary to achieve sea control. 130 Together these battle 
groups will form what is called a battle force. The primary 
mission of this battle force should be to seek out and 
destroy Soviet naval forces (air, surface, and subsurface) 
in the Norwegian Sea. With this mission accomplished, the 
battle force can then employ its considerable power 
projection capability (attack aircraft, land attack cruise- 
missiles, and naval gunfire) to support NATO ground forces 
fighting on the Central Front and the Northern Flank. 
Combined-arms operations are absolutely critical to the 
survival and success of the battle force in the Norwegian 
Sea. According to Admiral Watkins , 

Carrier battle groups supported by attack submarines, 
land based aviation, and surveillance assets possess the 
combat capability necessary to operate successfully, 
even in high-threat areas. 131 

The crucial question that must be answered in the 
struggle for the control of the Norwegian Sea is- -What NATO 
maritime asset has the best exchange ratio for a given 
Soviet threat? The preferred ASW platform is obviously the 
SSN which also has a major role in the anti-surface 
campaign. Maritime patrol aircraft can be used to augment 
the SSNs in the ASW effort and a coordinated attack 

129 The West German Navy concentrates 75 percent of its 
surface forces and 100 percent of its aviation assets in the 
Baltic Sea. Despite this emphasis on the Baltic, the 
Germans provide over 30 percent of the NATO naval forces in 
the North Sea and above. "W German Admiral Discusses Naval 
Strategy," Jane ' s Defence Weekly , 1 June 1985, p. 959. 

130 A carrier battle group includes one or more aircraft 
carriers; several cruisers, destroyers, and frigates; and 
usually one or two SSNs operating in direct support. At 
least three aircraft carriers are considered necessary to 
provide the round-the-clock air defense that is considered 
essential in the Norwegian Sea. 

131 Edgar Ulsamer, "Bobbing, Weaving, and Fighting 
Smart," Air Force Magazine , August 1983, p. 92. 


involving all strike assets should achieve the desired 
effect against the surface threat. Coordinating all the air 
defense assets against the long-range bomber threat is also 
necessary, but it should also be recognized that the carrier 
based F-14 with its Phoenix missile was designed specifi- 
cally to counter this threat. Clearly, the CVBG should not 
be the primary ASW force nor should it be expected to stand 
alone against the air threat, but what it can do is make a 
substantial contribution in both of these warfare areas. 
The battle group's primary mission is power projection and 
in that area it has no rival. 

Each year NATO performs a series of exercises to 
sharpen its skills at carrying out this strategy. NATO's 
recent OCEAN SAFARI 85 exercise was a clear indication of 
the Alliance's intention to reinforce and resupply Norway by 
sea. For the first time the exercise area was extended into 
the Norwegian Sea to demonstrate 

the determination of NATO to carry out a 
"forward defence" strategy, not being content simply to 
contain any Warsaw Pact naval forces to the north east 
of the Greenland, Iceland, UK gap (GIUKl but to take 
positive steps to force the aggressor back towards the 
homeland. 1 3 z 

The argument that is most often offered in opposi- 
tion to the Maritime Strategy is that it does not contribute 


to conventional deterrence in Western Europe 133 Some oppo- 
nents even believe that the strategy threatens conventional 
deterrence. The fundamental issue here is the allocation of 
scarce resources and the belief is that the Maritime 
Strategy with its 600-Ship Navy will take resources away 
from the forces on the Central Front. Building up to a 

13 2 

Daly, "Protection of Convoy Routes," p. 749 

133 For a complete explanation of this conclusion see 
Robert W. Komer, 'Maritime Strategy vs. Coalition Defense," 
Foreign Affairs , Summer 1982, pp. 1124-1144. 


force of fifteen aircraft carrier battle groups is 
undeniably an expensive undertaking, but that force is 
considered necessary to achieve America's national security 
objectives. What the critics fail to recognize is that if 
the Soviets control the Norwegian Sea, the rear of the 
Central Front will be exposed to attack from the sea and the 
North Atlantic SLOCs will be much more vulnerable. 

To counter the opposition on this issue, Secretary 
Lehman asserts that the Soviets will have to shift assets 
from the Central Region to defeat NATO forces on the 
Northern Flank. 13U Soviet actions in response to NATO exer- 
cises on the Northern Flank support the Secretary's asser- 
tions. During these exercises the Soviets have in fact sent 
long-range air assets from the Central Region to the north 
to reinforce their forces on the Kola Peninsula, but it is 
doubtful that they would divert these forces during a 
general war with NATO. 

Another common criticism of the Maritime Strategy is 
that it is not endorsed and fully supported by the uniformed 
leaders of the U.S. Navy. A review of the literature 
reveals that this is not the case. The CNO and SACLANT are 
the two most noteworthy examples, but the opinion of Vice 
Admiral Mustin, the man who will personally lead NATO's 
naval striking forces in the Atlantic during a war with the 
Soviet Union, is probably more relevant. There is little 
doubt where Admiral Mustin stands on the issue. He specifi- 
cally states that "there is no logical, historical or legal 
reason to insist on a military strategy that is purely 
defensive." 1 35 

The issue of feasibility is what prompts the contro- 
versy over whether or not the uniformed leadership of the 

13U Getler, p. A4 . 

135 "NATO Naval Posture 'Now Offensive'," Jane's Defence 
Weekly , 7 September 1985, p. 431. 


Navy supports the Maritime Strategy. Critics of the 
Strategy assert that it should not be employed because it 
cannot be successfully carried out with current assets. 
They believe that carrier battle groups in the Norwegian Sea 
would be extremely vulnerable to attack by Soviet submarines 
and cruise-missile carrying bombers. 136 As a result of this 
vulnerability, the battle groups would be too busy defending 
their aircraft carriers to seize the initiative and take the 
fight to the enemy. There is some truth in these asser- 
tions, but what the critics fail to recognize is the inher- 
ently attrition-oriented nature of sea warfare. Carrier 
battle groups that are engaging and destroying attacking 
Soviet submarines are in fact, accomplishing their mission 
even, if they are absorbing some losses of their own. 

A Soviet invasion of Norway can only be deterred if 
the Soviets are convinced that the Alliance has the resolve 
to defend Norwegian sovereignty and the clearest signal of 
that resolve is embodied in the U.S. Navy's Maritime 
Strategy . 


1. Ijs the Sea an Escalation Barrier ? 

There are two basic schools of thought concerning 
the role of nuclear weapons at sea during a major East-West 
war. The fundamental issue that divides the two schools is 
whether or not the sea can be considered an escalation 
barrier. 137 One school of thought which for the purpose of 
this study is referred to as pro-barrier, believes that both 
the U.S. and the Soviet Union will view the sea as an 

13S For a complete discussion of this issue see 
Stansfield Turner and George Thibault, "Preparing for the 
Unexpected: The Need for a New Military Strategy," Foreign 
Affairs , Fall 1982, pp. 122-134. & ~ 

137 For an in-depth analysis of this issue see Gordon H. 
McCormick and Mark E. Miller, "American Seapower at Risk: 
Nuclear Weapons in Soviet Naval Planning," Orbis, Summer 
1981, pp. 351-367. 


escalation barrier. They postulate that nuclear weapons can 
be used at sea without their use spreading to land theaters 
because collateral damage will be minimal or non-existent. 
The other school of thought which will be referred to as 
anti-barrier, believes that the use of nuclear weapons at 
sea may or may not lead to their use on land. They postu- 
late that this uncertainty about the escalation of nuclear 
war at sea will delay the maritime use of nuclear weapons 
until after the first exchange on land. 

People who accept the pro-barrier line of thinking 
see much danger in moving large naval forces, especially 
carrier battle groups, into the Norwegian Sea. They believe 
that these forces are particularly vulnerable to the effects 
of nuclear weapons and that they make very inviting targets. 
While CVBGs represent a large concentration of American 
national power and resources, they also pose a substantial 
threat to the Kola Peninsula and Soviet forces in the 
Region. Senator Sam Nunn, during a Senate subcommittee 
hearing on Sea Power and Force Projection, offered the 
following analysis of the situation: 

What I am saying to you is if you put all of those 
resources together into one task force and head right 
toward the Soviets very strategic targets in that area, 
I think . . . will lower the nuclear threshold and make 
it much more likely that that nuclear threshold will be 
crossed, because you will have such a huge, lucrative 
target. It will pose such a threat to them that I think 
it will be almost irresistible. 138 

The anti-barrier group believes that the Soviets 
will be deterred from using nuclear weapons at sea by the 
strategic nuclear deterrent of the United States. If the 
Soviets use nuclear weapons against a NATO naval force oper- 
ating in the Norwegian Sea, the United States will surely 
respond in kind. The U.S. response could be an all-out 

138 U.S. Senate, p. 3872. 


offensive against the Soviet SSBN force or it could be a 
nuclear strike against the bases of the force that launched 
the original attack. Regardless, the response has the 
potential of leading up the escalation ladder and the threat 
of escalation beyond the maritime environment should theo- 
retically deter the initial use of nuclear weapons by the 
Soviets at sea. The important point is that they do not 
discount the use of nuclear weapons altogether, but that 
they believe that if nuclear weapons are used at sea they 
will also be used on land. 

The Navy's leaders view the vulnerability of its 
carrier battle groups in relative teams. They are quick to 
point out that a CVBG moving at thirty knots is much more 
difficult to target with nuclear weapons than a stationary 
airfield located anywhere in the world. This difficulty in 
targeting greatly enhances the survivability of the battle 
group and it should be factored into any assessment of CVBG 
vulnerability. In response to questions concerning the 
vulnerability of carrier battle groups to a barrage ICBM 
attack the CNO made the following observation which indi- 
cates the problems with targeting a CVBG with any weapon: 

one carrier battle group takes up 56,000 
square miles. The neighboring one is 250 miles away. 
He also takes up 56,000 square miles. The other is off 
in another direction, another 250 miles. This is not a 
World War II kind of diposition. These dispositions 
cover an area equivalent to all of central Europe. 

So we are not talking about ships that can be taken 
out with nuclear weapons in some kind of barrage attack. 
All the studies have shown this thinking to be 
unsound . * 3 9 

2. Should We Sink Their SSBNs ? 

Another nuclear planning consideration that is 
extremly important in the northern region is the role of 
NATO's nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs). It is a 

133 Ibid. , p. 3879. 


fairly well known fact, that American SSNs have demonstrated 
the capability in peacetime to penetrate Soviet SSBN 
bastions with relative ease 1M As a result of this capa- 
bility there is a strong incentive to send the SSNs hunting 
for Soviet SSBNs especially in their Northern Fleet 
bastions. 1 " 1 If the United States and NATO employ their SSNs 
in this manner, what will be the Soviet response? This 
question has very serious implications, especially when it 
is realized that the Soviets do not possess a similar capa- 
bility to threaten the West's SSBNs and that the U.S. is in 
the process of deploying a new generation hard target kill 
capable weapons (the Trident II D-5 SLBM and the MX ICBM) 
that severely threaten Soviet ICBMs . 

In addition to their capability to penetrate the 
bastions and hunt Soviet SSBNs, NATO's attack submarines are 
also valuable assets in the Alliance's effort to gain and 
maintain control of the Norwegian Sea. Submarines are 
considered the preeminent ASW platforms and NATO SSNs will 
be absolutely essential to the ASW campaign in the Norwegian 
Sea and North Atlantic. It is believed that the interests 
of the Alliance and the United States will be better served 
by employing the vast majority of NATO's SSNs outside of the 
Soviet SSBN bastions to contain the flow of Soviet subma- 
rines into the Norwegian Sea. 


Ackley, p. 42 

1U1 A closely related issue is whether or not a campaign 
against the conventional Soviet forces in the area would be 
interpreted as a threat to the SSBNs. See Barry R. Posen, 
"Inadvertent Nuclear War? Escalation and NATO s Northern 
Flank," International Security , Fall 1982, pp. 28-54. 



Clearly, NATO's strategy on the Northern Flank should be 
built on the foundation of forward defense and the U.S. 
Navy's Maritime Strategy. However, this strategy alone does 
not answer all of the questions or achieve all of the objec- 
tives. There is a definite need to increase the amount of 
prepositioned equipment and NATO war supplies in Norway. 
This will reduce NATO's dependence on sealift to reinforce 
Norway during the initial stages of a war and it will 
strengthen deterrence. Because it is the only earmarked 
ground combat unit, the CAST Brigade should have the highest 
priority in the prepositioning effort. 

If deterrence fails, forward defense is an absolute 
necessity to protect NATO's North Atlantic SLOCs and to 
guarantee the defense of Norway. Three factors will deter- 
mine whether or not forward defense on the Northern Flank 
will be successful. First, the Alliance must react promptly 
to crisis situations throughout NATO. When East-West 
tensions in Europe rise or when superpower confrontation 
seems eminent somewhere else in the world, the political 
leaders of NATO must respond accordingly. If a real threat 
of war begins to materialize, NATO maritime forces must be 
allowed to deploy to their positions in the Norwegian Sea 
and the North Atlantic before the Soviets can concentrate 
their naval forces in these vital areas. NATO naval forces 
would be at a severe disadvantage if they have to fight 
their way into the Norwegian Sea, but if they are there when 
the fighting starts the Soviets may never make it out of the 
Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean. 

The second critical factor will be NATO's ability to 
control the airspace above Norway. If a large portion of 
the earmarked aircraft reinforcements arrive in Norway 
before the outbreak of hostilities, the Soviets will be 


hard-pressed to gain control of the air above northern 
Norway and the Norwegian Sea. NATO has sufficient aircraft 
assets dedicated to the defense of the region to retain 
control of Norwegian airspace and to maintain the flow of 
reinforcements into Norway. If the Soviets chose to chal- 
lenge NATO in the air above Norway they will have to shift 
large numbers of aircraft out of the Central Front region to 
seize control of Norwegian airspace. 

The success of NATO's ASW forces at containing the 
Northern Fleet's submarines is the third and most important 
factor affecting the results of forward defense on the 
Northern Flank. From the very outset of a crisis, NATO ASW 
forces must be in a position to locate, track, and destroy 
all Soviet submarines as they move into the Norwegian Sea. 
The critical element of this effort should be a SSN barrier 
along the northern periphery of the Norwegian Sea which is 
supported by additional layers of SSNs along the access 
routes to the North Atlantic. This task will be extremely 
difficult to perform because the Soviets will undoubtedly 
attempt to delay the start of hostilities until their forces 
are in advantageous positions. Regardless, the more Soviet 
submarines that are targeted during peacetime, the greater 
the chances of success. 

Immediately after the start of the war, the SSN barrier 
should turn into a distant blockade of Soviet northern 
ports. Dense ASW minefields should replace the SSNs along 
the barrier and the SSNs should be used to destroy any 
Soviet submarines that penetrate the blockade. Other SSNs, 
maritime patrol aircraft, and carrier battle groups should 
be employed to support the blockade. They will be tasked 
with prosecuting any Soviet submarines in the southern 
Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic. 

American carrier battle groups are essential to the 
success of forward defense on the Northern Flank for three 
crucial reasons. First, CVBGs will be a necessary element 


of. the NATO effort to establish and maintain control of the 
Norwegian Sea. Their primary purpose will be to seek and 
destroy the Soviet Northern Fleet. Second, the air defense 
aircraft of the battle groups will be needed to fill the 
gaps in the air defense network over the Northern Flank. 
Finally, from a central location between the two regions the 
attack aircraft of the CVBGs could provide desperately 
needed close air support for the ground forces fighting on 
the Central Front and Northern Flank. 

It would be foolish to think that the Soviets would not 
oppose the movement of American carrier battle groups into 
the Norwegian Sea and it would be just as foolish to assume 
that the battle groups could by themselves defeat the Soviet 
anti- carrier forces which they would surely encounter upon 
entering the Norwegian Sea. Undeniably, the carrier battle 
group has its vulnerabilities, but it is still a very 
capable fighting force with tremendous power projection 
capabilities. Ongoing programs to improve the carrier 
battle group's AAW (anti-air warfare) and ASW defenses are 
essential to maintain the CVBG ' s capability to operate in 
high- threat areas. Of particular interest should be coun- 
termeasures to reduce the low-flyer threat, methods to 
defeat the long-range bomber threat, and improved detection 
capabilities to counter the latest generation of Soviet 
nuclear-powered submarines. 

On the Northern Flank, integration of NATO assets is 
necessary in all warfare environments- - land, air, surface, 
and subsurface. NATO force fighting on the ground in Norway 
will need close air support from fighter/ground attack 
aircraft stationed in Norway and on aircraft carriers oper- 
ating off the Norwegian coast. All NATO air defense assets, 
including those in Norway, Iceland, Greenland, and Britain 
as well as those flying from carrier flight decks, must be 
coordinated to achieve control of the airspace over the 
Northern Flank. Attack aircraft, cruise missiles, and naval 


gunfire must be combined with land based strike aircraft 
(including B-52s armed with Harpoons) to eliminate the 
Soviet surface threat. Finally, the ASW forces of the 
Alliance must work together to contain and destroy Soviet 
submarines operating in the Norwegian Sea. The NATO ASW 
forces that will be involved in this effort include SSNs , 
land based maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft, 
carrier based ASW aircraft, and ASW capable surface 
ships. 1 "* 2 Aggressive actions, improved capabilities, and 
coordination of assets will make forward defense on the 
Northern Flank work. 

lu2 Even B-52s could be employed in this effort because 
of their mining capability. 



The successful defense of the Northern Flank is abso- 
lutely essential to the NATO Alliance. If NATO fails to 
defend this flank, its vital North Atlantic SLOCs will be 
severely threatened and the rear of the Central Front will 
be exposed to attack from the sea. 

Norway's geo-strategic location makes it the key to the 
defense of the Northern Flank and a significant NATO advan- 
tage. It is an advantage that must be defended both in 
peace and in war. Analysis of the nature of the Soviet 
threat to Norway reveals that the Soviets are pursuing a 
strategy that is designed to neutralize Norway from the very 
outset of a conflict with NATO. Ideally, what the Soviets 
want is to peacefully force Norway to withdraw from NATO 
before a conflict starts and their preparations for war 
facilitate this process. 

Because of Norway's reliance on NATO's deterrent shield 
and self-imposed restrictions, its defense is heavily depen- 
dent on reinforcements from its allies. To prevent Norway's 
neutralization, NATO must possess the capability to rein- 
force and resupply Norway during a war with the Soviet 
Union. Currently this capability is dependent on NATO's 
ability to control the Norwegian Sea. The Soviets will 
undoubtedly try to control the Norwegian Sea at start of a 
war with NATO because of its obvious strategic importance. 
To guarantee the defense of Norway and the Alliance's North 
Atlantic SLOCs, NATO must prevent this from happening. If 
NATO does not pursue a strategy and possess the capability 
to challenge the Northern Fleet in the Norwegian Sea, Norway 
could be lost to NATO even before the outbreak of a war. 

A strategy of forward defense, which is articulated in 
the U.S. Navy's Maritime Strategy, is considered the most 
appropriate strategy for NATO on the Northern Flank. A 


defensive barrier at the GIUK gap should be an integral part 
of this strategy, but it cannot by itself achieve the 
Alliance's basic objectives in the region. NATO should also 
continue its program of increasing its stockpiles of war 
supplies in Norway. 




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Defending Norway 
and the Northern 
Flank: analysis of 
NATO's strategic